It had been a month to Rishi’s birthday. Ever since Aayat came back from that party, Rishi’s behaviour had been fluctuating. He was behaving strangely. There had been a few times when Rishi snapped at Aayat very bad. She did not know the reason. She thought she shouldn’t have invited Hardik and Ritesh for the party. She did that against Rishi’s wishes. He always told her that he didn’t want to involve his friends between both of them. Vikram and Zuly were different. They were extremely close to Rishi and Aayat. In fact, Rishi himself introduced Vikram to Aayat. He even told Vikram about their relationship. Aayat thought that the change of behaviour was because of his results. Rishi got a back in a subject. He had been quite upset in the last few days. On the other hand, Aayat got admission into a decent school in 11th standard. She got the science stream, for which she opted.
Aayat’s life was not a cake walk too but she never behaved outrageously with Rishi.
One day, Aayat was trying to call Rishi on the usual time. She was worried because Rishi was not talking to her that often. She was not a possessive girlfriend and hence did not doubt him. In fact, she thought that Rishi was going through some problems in his personal life which he wasn’t very comfortable sharing. Although she respected his privacy and never tried to poke him when he is not in a good mood but that evening she thought she’ll have a word with him. Moreover, irrespective of what Rishi thought about her in his life, she believed that she was more than just a girlfriend and thence she should know if something’s wrong with him. Not because she didn’t believe him but because she knew that Rishi was not someone who would share things so easily. Aayat did not get the privileges of being a girlfriend just by being one, she had to earn them by reading his life mostly through his eyes. Rishi didn’t allow anybody to sneak into his world and while he was trying to keep Aayat out of his world, she was already into it. And therefore it became all the more difficult for Rishi to avoid her. However, the gist of his life was still unknown to Aayat.
It was the 3rd attempt when she dialled his number. His phone rang the 8th time before it went dead. She felt like calling Vikram and ask about Rishi’s whereabouts but couldn’t. It won’t be right to call Vikram for every small thing. She thought. Somehow she calmed herself down and tried to relax. The pillow didn’t feel soft that night. Even though she knew his phone was switched off, she didn’t stop calling him hoping that in one fine moment when his phone would take its first breath, her phone call should reach him first.
Midnight, her phone beeped once. Even after being so sleepy and tired, she kept a check on her phone every minute so as to not miss any ping from him. It was his text and it said “sry”.
She didn’t know what she should make out of it.
“Whr r u Rishi nd hw hv u been ? I’m so worried! Plz talk to me once. Pls reply. I’m worried.”
It was 1 am and she couldn’t call him at that hour thinking that he would be home. One text message was all she could do.
It was a long wait for his reply which did not come that night. She slept unknowingly waiting for his reply.
Next day, when she woke up, she had a text from Rishi.
“Sry cudnt reply last nite actually was tired and slpt.”
She was quite relieved to see a normal text from him. It brought her to the normal form.
“It’s k. I’ll meet you tdy after coaching. Will come to Zuly’s house. Will see u 🙂 Bhondu !!! I love you !!”
Within a minute, her cell phone beeped again. It was his msg again.
“yaa sure. I’ll surprise u tdy :)”
It read. She got excited thinking what could it be. Rishi was not someone who would utter things without having some gravity.
“Oh really !!!! Now I’m EXCITED!! TELL ME NAAAAA”
The happiness and excitement in her were visible in the way she typed the next few msgs.
“No. U’ll hv to cm fr that.”
Rishi texted back.
“I’ll definitely come buttttt batttaaaooo tooooo”
Aayat couldn’t keep her excitement inside and texted him again before he could say anything.
“Okay tell me one thing. Is it a surprising surprise or a shocking surprise ??”
“Amm…Both. Well, ol I can say is dat I earned it 🙂
Came his reply.
Aayat was very happy. At most, she thought that Rishi might have got some placement from his college and that was why he was not being able to talk to her from the last few days. It was as if the things eventually fell in place.
In the Evening, she got ready for her classes usually and waited for Zuly to come to her place like she always did. However, that day, Zuly didn’t come. She thought Zuly got late and hence called her. It was the third time she tried but she didn’t pick up her call. She left a text message stating that she was leaving for the classes and Zuly should join her there only.
“So class !! We know what an electron is, obviously. Now this baby electron has four cute hi-tech girlfriends.” Gaurav Sir took the chemistry classes in his own unique way. No teacher could beat that style of teaching.
The whole class burst into laughter. Some got really emotional and started discussing amongst themselves.
“And these 4 girlfriends are called the 4 Quantum numbers” he continued
“Which are very important for finding the exact location of an electron inside an atom. You know why I call them the girlfriends of electron?”
“Any guesses ?”
The class murmured and the girls around the corner giggled. Aayat, sitting on the front seat seemed to have lost concentration in the class.
“Aayat? Any guesses!?” Gaurav sir’s voice brought Aayat back into the class.
“Yes… Aaa yes yes, sir?” Aayat babbled in front of Gaurav sir.
“You should be in the class physically and mentally.” Gaurav sir said and gave her a thoughtful smile.
Aayat smiled back to him courteously.
“I call them the 4 girlfriends of the baby electron because as a thoughtful girlfriend would keep a check on her boyfriend, about his whereabouts, about his Location like where he is at what time, these quantum numbers do the same job for an electron.”
Gaurav sir continued with his class.
“Sir! Sir, may I come in?” A girl in red top and black jeans interrupted the class.
“No! Why are you always late for my class Zuly?” Gaurav sir sat on one of the benches and rotated a book on the tip of his index finger, his usual activity that he would do in the class. The class gets captivated seeing that Gaurav sir can do that for minutes without letting the book fall.
“Sir I am sorry. I won’t be late next time, I promise”. Zuly replied, panting for air.
Aayat saw the expressions on her face which were not the usual ones. She was petrified and nervous.
Zuly! How could she be nervous just for getting late for class? No ! There has to be something. Aayat thought.
Gaurav sir signalled her to come in and resumed his class.
As soon as she sat beside Aayat, Zuly said “Aayat! RJ got a fracture in his hand!” She said, still panting.
The words felt as heavy and dreadful as an earthquake. Aayat was terrified. For a moment, everything went blank for her. Within a fraction of a second she uttered “Whattttttttttt?” and it was so loud to be heard by the whole class.
“What happened to you two? Everything okay?!” Gaurav sir asked but Aayat was not in the condition to reply. She even overlooked Gaurav sir and went on asking more questions to Zuly.
“But how did this happen? He was alright the last night!” She asked Zuly frowned head.
“Aayat? You okay!? What happened?” Gaurav Sir asked more questions. But Aayat didn’t know how to answer them.
“Sir…Aa actually, actually a friend broke his hand. He got a frac… Fracture” She somehow tried to speak. Gaurav sir realised that she stammered while she was speaking.
“Relax Aayat! It is Fracture only. It’ll be okay. No need to be so worried. Now relax and get back to the class.” Gaurav sir tried to calm her down but How could she be relaxed.
Within a few minutes, she connected the dots and recalled his msgs from the Same morning.
The surprise being surprising and shocking both. I have earned it.
These phrases juggled in her mind recklessly. She was now clear with Rishi’s intentions. She knew what he was trying to tell her, but couldn’t. It made her feel like she was too far from Rishi even today. Because had she been really close to him, he would have told her about the fracture himself. He didn’t sleep the last night, in fact, he was getting the plaster done. In between the class, she tried to control her tears but couldn’t.
As soon as the class finished, she rushed out leaving even Zuly behind. Walking hurriedly down the stairs she didn’t even care about anybody else. She just wanted to reach Rishi’s house as soon as possible. Even though it was just a 15 min walk from there, she took a rickshaw that day. Zuly ran after Aayat seeing her condition and managed to climb up the same rickshaw.
The whole 5 minutes journey Zuly kept talking to Aayat and told her to calm down. But Aayat was out of her senses.
As soon as she reached Rishi’s house, she found the gate was already ajar. She pushed it and ran inside madly.
She saw Rishi’s mom in the kitchen.
“Namastey Aunty. Where’s Rishi ?” She asked coming straight to the point.
“Did he got a fracture? How did it happen? When?” She shot so many questions to her before she could answer even one.
“It happened yesterday beta. You should ask him. Now, what should I say?” Gayatri aunty was very upset. Obviously, she was his mom, she would be upset.
Aayat moved to the other room where Rishi taught his students. It was in the evening when the kids would come home for the tuitions. She opened the door and saw him standing near the bed with a copy in his hand. He was telling some problem to that 8th class girl.
“Hi” He didn’t try to be cheerful and kept his tone low.
“Kaise Hua ye ?? Bataoge ?” She didn’t beat around the bush and came straight to the point.
“Arey relax! This happens. Chill. It’s nothing much.” Rishi replied very carelessly. Obviously, he did not want to create a scene in from together his students.
Aayat had not only seen Rishi, but she had read his eyes too. She knew when he lied. It was not just about the fracture, there was something in his eyes which was hurting Aayat more than the fracture in his hand. She moved towards him and touched his plaster. The kids in the room saw the two as she was touching his hand. Aayat was a very sensitive girl. When she feels something, it becomes very difficult for her to hide her emotions. It is reflected not just in her actions but in her eyes too.
“Aayat, I’m teaching my students. I’ll see you later. Bye” Rishi replied rudely. Probably that was the only way he could keep her from crying. Had he not done that, Aayat would have started crying. He had noticed tears escaping the corners of her eyes.
The words hurt her and more because Rishi turned his face after saying them. He did not see her again. Even when she closed the door behind her, Rishi pretended to be unaffected. As if Aayat was a normal girl and there was nothing special about her.
Gayatri aunty knew about the friendship Aayat and Rishi shared and therefore she tried to console her when she came out of the room.
“He did not tell me anything, aunty. What happened? How did this happen? At least you tell me please .” Aayat literally begged this time. She was halfway into tears but Zuly supported her and didn’t let her cry in front of Gayatri aunty.
“Beta, what should I say. You talk to him only when he is free. He will tell you better.” She said, keeping a very poised gesture. Maybe she didn’t want to tell Aayat.
She went there to meet Rishi but Rishi asked her to leave. So she didn’t have any reason to stay back.
“Aayat! Talk to him on phone in the Evening. You’re anyways not going to get the privacy since aunty is here.” Zuly said when Gayatri Aunty resumed her work in the kitchen.
Aayat got up to leave.
“Namastey Aunty !” She greeted Gayatri aunty and left. On her way out the locality, she bumped into Hardik, Rishi’s friend.
“Hardik bhaiya !! What happened to his hand? How did it happen?” Aayat immediately fired questions at Hardik without saying anything else.
“Aayat! Don’t worry. It’s just a fracture. Actually ammm… He fell from the scooter last night. You know na we went for booze last night and while coming back he met with a small accident.”
Hardik told her the reason and she was finally at some rest.
“I always tell him to leave that fucking alcohol but he won’t listen.” Aayat blurted out angrily.
Hardik calmed her down and sent her home. That was the best which could be done at that time. She went home silently and waited like an eagle for his class to end. She thought she would talk to him over the phone at night.
At night at the usual time, she sent him a text before calling him. That was how they used to talk.
“Why didn’t you tell me you had a fracture? Whyyyyy ???” She just couldn’t keep her anger inside her.
“And how’s your hand? Did you even take the medicines? You had food right? It’s 9 you should take your medicines on time !! What are you doing Rishi !! How did you get this fracture ???”
She just fired questions onto him without even letting him even say Hii…
“Hmm. I took my medicines. He gave one painkiller. And I’m okay. Don’t worry.”
Rishi talked in bleak tone and she knew there was something wrong with him.
Even though she believed Hardik when he said about the accident but when she thought about it, it sounded irrational because none of his friends had a scooter. Vikram, Hardik and Ritesh all three of them owned a bike so where did that scooter come into the picture!
“No Rishi you’re not. You are going to tell me how did this happened?”
She was adamant to know that.
“Even if I had told you, what could you o for me? Can you ?”
Rishi was being rude to her unnecessarily. She thought.
“Rishi, we don’t tell our problems to our loved ones because we want them to solve for us every time. And even if I can’t do anything for you, I can atleast listen to you. I want to know this. It is important for me. Rishi !! You are important to me. Please tell me”
Aayat’s words fell on his deaf ears. He was still reluctant speaking about it.
“Rishi! You wanted to be with me right? Why? Because you liked sharing things with me. You feel nice when you do that. You feel light. So what happened now? When it’s the right time, don’t you think I deserve to know? And you know it’s not even about deserving or not, I know you’ll feel very light after saying all that you’re holding back. Tell me what’s bothering you. Please !!!!”
God knows what melted his heart but he finally spoke.
“Dad shouted on Mom last night. He came home, drunk. I completely lost my mind last night Aayat! He raised his hand at mom. I’ve always seen him ill-treating mom. He never gave her that respect which she actually deserves. I don’t like him. I tolerate him because he is my father by chance and not by choice.”
Aayat was listening to all that very carefully. She didn’t want to miss even a single detail about what he wanted to say.
“You know Aayat, He continued
“When I was a kid, he used to never come home for nights and mom used to be awake. I have seen mom crying for him. You know it is said that if you pray when you break an eyelash it reaches straight to God! I used to pluck my eyelashes and pray to God to send my Dad home. But he never came. I’ve grown up without any support from him. My mom is everything for me Aayat. When he treats her like this I feel like I should just…Don’t know my mind Stops working. That was what happened to me last night. I couldn’t say anything to him but I banged my hand in the door. The one that you must have seen, it is not closing now. I broke the handle, and my hand too. That is what happened.”
Aayat heard everything but she felt short of words. Aayat belonged to a very Happy family. Rishi’s situation at his home was far beyond her imagination. Yet she had to say something.
“Rishi !! Listen to me. I know I Have nothing to say that can ease your pain and I know I can’t do anything either. But if you really want to do something for your mom, give her the life you’ve always dreamed of giving her. I know it’s not a one day task and I know you have thought about it before and I am not telling you anything new. Rishi you are way more experienced than me and there’s never something new that I can do for you… But just know that even when this world will step back, I will be with you holding your hand and supporting you no matter what happens or who gets against me. It will never affect my trust and faith in you. You have that fire in you that you can do anything. I have seen you !! Have you seen yourself !? There’s nothing which you cannot do. I admire you Rishi and I mean it. You are my inspiration before being my friend or anything else for that matter. I belong to you and I learn from you. I can’t see my inspiration getting into pieces because of one incident..I’ll be with you always no matter what. Irrespective of any other relation of my life, you’ll be my priority Rishi … I love Youuuu” Aayat’s words have stopped affecting Rishi but that day there was something in her tone which Rishi couldn’t avoid. He was bound by her voice and captivated by her words. For a second, he forgot the apprehensions that never seem to leave him and savoured the feeling of having someone so close to him in his life who will never leave him.
He felt a lot but still didn’t say much…In fact only “Hmm”.
Aayat knew that Rishi spoke only one-tenth of what he feels, so she never complained.
“Hmmmmmmm Mr.Bhondu!” She said and smiled widely.
It is heart melting to see someone who lives your life like it’s their own. Aayat was that in Rishi’s life.
They were having a beautiful time together after a long while.
“Aayat I…I will text u. I need to take this urgent call.” He abruptly disconnected the phone call even before Aayat could say anything. This on and off attitude of him was a matter of distress for her. She wasn’t able to concentrate on her studies too. However, she didn’t call him again because she knew he would be busy. That’s what Aayat want to be remembered forever. Understanding.
She looked at the name and the call summary on her mobile phone
Rishi – 30:12 seconds
She deleted his number from the call log and kept the phone back.
“I told you I’ll call you at 10. Why can’t you wait ?” It was Rishi on the other side, making that important call.
“Aankhien khol kar Mohobbat karna Mumkin nahi…Aankhien band Kari jaayen to Fareb khane ka dar rehta hai…Par Jahan ye Dono hi baatein na ho to? Agar khud Insaan Ko hi na khabar ho ki wo kis qadr be-khabar aur Ghaafil hai to phir ilzaam kis par lagaya Jaaye?”