Turning the clock back to 2020, I can see – agony, economic disaster, the migrant crisis, uncertainty, gloom… and love. Let’s talk love.
//———– Recollecting where we left ——————Mohit finally got to know the name of his nemesis, he was elated, invigorated and happy—————-//
The day went by smooth and after office Mohit went for a stroll, he appreciated the ‘royal poinciana’ trees also called forest flame, lining the pathway. Mohit didn’t know why he was feeling happy but knowing her name made a sea change in his life. He could now name the girl whose thoughts have been tormenting him, he kept on smiling.
It was not until the next week that Mohit and Adiya met again at the vegetable vendor, who was available in the morning and in the evening again inside the campus; Mohit was thinking about work as he had taken a short break and had rushed to queue up to get some fruits and veggies. Not being a morning person, the evening was his only window.
Adiya came and stood 6 ft behind him, as was the norm. He felt her presence and turned, it was uncanny. She smiled. He was prompt this time, “Adiya can I have your number please? I want to talk to you,” he said with exigency in his voice. She gave her number almost in a whisper and her voice transported him under a willow tree by a river; but he quickly came back and saved her number, gave a missed call to her, and chirped, “Please save my number Adiya, I’ll Whatsapp you. Is this your Whatsapp number as well?” She nodded with a smile and he felt as though he fell on the soft grassy meadow and was rolling and rolling and rolling.
He came back to reality as the security guard asked him to move ahead in line; he was still facing her and did not notice that the person in front of him had moved. He turned and moved. Adiya behind him moved too. He could feel her watching him and she actually was, intently.
She started from his foot in slippers, those seemed well-formed but no signs of workout; the legs went way up to show their considerable length but the loose pant didn’t reveal it’s built; the torso was not very wide but gave the t-shirt a pleasant shape; a medium neck, a medium head and a lot of black crop to crown it. He looked rather boyish and Adiya liked it.
After office Mohit made dinner; all the while thinking what to say and how to start the conversation. He had waited all this time for an opportunity and now that he had her number, he was nervy.
Mohit retired to bed with his book and mobile after dinner, having cleaned up the kitchen. He flipped a page or two but was not able to concentrate. He checked the mobile for messages. There were quite a few but one caught his eye; it was her. Adiya had sent a message. Just a ‘hi!’ Mohit gave out a passionate sigh, all these days of suffering and speculation and anxiety was rewarded with a cute little ‘hi’. He smiled.
Mohit could have replied, he was tempted to, but he had so much to say he didn’t know where to begin. A simple ‘hi’ could have been a good start. Yet he could not, he kept on looking at the message. He went to see her profile pic, ‘she is an angel’, he thought; Mohit was in love.
Mohit had been a studious fellow under a strict father, with girls being the last thing on his mind. He could not believe he felt so strongly about a girl. Love was not only forbidden in his family it was akin to criminal offense and here he was going crazy about this girl.
That night he had to decide… before he brought another person in the same turbulent boat that he was riding, a much younger person; ‘she would hardly be in her teens’, he thought. He felt a guilt pang, she was not even an adult.
He thought and thought and thought and finally decided that he will give it 48 hrs, if he can keep away her thoughts for that long then he will not start a conversation with her. Mohit was certain that Adiya could not be just another friend; she would either be his life or not be in his life, even if that meant having no life at all.
Mohit couldn’t sleep that night again; this girl was giving him more sleepless nights than his engineering exams, at dawn, he went for a walk – he did not notice the blooming petunia, he did not go by his favourite garden walk-through, he just walked, he needed physical exhaustion to beat the mental fatigue.
He felt tired but carried on with the daily chores; he attended office, made and had dinner, went for another walk, and finally hit the bed. If only his father had seen him walking so much, he would be astonished and delighted at the same time. Sleep still refused to embrace him for long and when she did, she brought her along.
Adiya was feeling guilt pangs too, ever since she sent him that ‘hi’. She thought ‘maybe I got it all wrong’, maybe that morning he was just drunk and had mistaken her for someone else. She remembered every word of what he had said. They were intense. She desperately wanted to talk to someone but Sheena was not really a pal in fact she was the right opposite of that.
Sheena was Adiya’s cousin from her father’s side. She had a huge family back home, staying all together in their estate. Sheena’s mother was her father’s younger sister, widowed at an early age she came back to the family along with her two children and had been happily staying there ever since.
Ritul was Sheena’s elder sister but practically a godmother to Adiya. She adored Adiya; Adiya was her doll, daughter, pet, and more. Now Ritul was all set to get married coming winter and Adiya didn’t want to live in a house where Ritul will not be around; though Ritul insisted that she could come along with her, Adiya had the senses that it won’t work out.
Adiya’s brother Rupesh suggested that she could visit Sheena who had stayed on in Bangalore after doing her graduation and was now working. He asked her to check out some schools/colleges there and enroll if she liked.
Adiya had just given her grade 10 exams and had a vacation going on. She liked the idea and told her dad about it. Her father was hesitant in the beginning but then Ritul’s mother backed Adiya and said that she thought it would be a wonderful idea if the two sisters Sheena and Adiya stayed together. She would be much at peace. Also, a new place will help Adiya to make new friends and her grief will ease up in the new surroundings.
Adiya got the support of her own mother and the other family members; her dad finally agreed. Little did they know that Sheena would not only be unhappy but detest the plan!
So when one fine morning Sheena got the call about Adiya’s plan she was exasperated. Sheena didn’t like Adiya especially; everybody loved her, even her own sister Ritul and her mother adored her. Adiya was born the same year when they had arrived at the family estate. Little Adiya was full of life and very sweet-natured, she could win any heart with her smile; though Sheena herself was quite beautiful, Adiya was a charmer.
But Sheena had no excuse to knock off the plan. Thus Adiya arrived with her father. Her father left after 2 days as planned. He had work galore at the estate and Sheena knew the city well enough to help out Adiya; if she intended to, which nobody had a doubt about!
Once Adiya’s father went away, Sheena made the rules crystal clear. There was no way that Adiya could stay with her, if she wanted to be in the city she will have to choose a school/college that has a hostel facility. As long as Adiya was at her place, which should be the minimum time required, she should live as a ghost, never crossing her path, never making any trouble, never expecting anything of her.
Adiya had not expected such a ruthless behaviour as she was not aware of Sheena’s apathy to the family or her in particular but she had no other option than to abide by Sheena’s terms. Adiya was shocked but she didn’t have the heart to speak about it to anybody back home. She started looking for schools/colleges online and made plans to visit/apply as soon as possible.
And then it happened. 25th March 2020, lockdown phase one.
Such was Adiya’s miserable situation and then Mohit betided. Or did he? She was not sure. It was the first time a stranger had spoken to her in such a way that touched a part of her heart hitherto untouched. She had felt a shiver when he had held her hand, though briefly; the feeling still made her stir.
Adiya had lots of friends back home, at school, and her neighbourhood but Ritul was the only one whom she had always shared every bit of her life with, but about this newfound feeling she didn’t know, ‘how to tell her, what to tell her’.
until next Sat…