Rishaan gawped at his Mother with sheen of amusement at his face, surprisingly, not a pinch of annoyance this time. It suddenly seemed too difficult for him to decipher the characteristics of the most amusing creation called “Mothers”. They seem to possess unbeatable negotiation and convincing skills. He can’t believe, he just gave in for Marriage. To top it all, he met the girl only through Skype and WhatsApp video calls. It was indeed a marathon of long four years for his family and friends trying to convince him. Nobody could really crack the reason why once a famed Casanova in college opted for a severe ascetic life soon after college ended. To add to it, he simply loathed the idea of marriage.
Rituporna was on cloud nine. She desperately wanted Kiara to be her daughter-in-law. In a celebratory gesture, she plunged into her cell phone and made a couple of important phone calls. Over the next one hour, her business meetings were cancelled. Rishaan’s father had an abrupt end to his business meeting, family pundits were called and important dates were finalized.
Kiara was born and brought up in the US. After a week, Rishaan and Kiara finally met. Unlike his speculations and prejudices, Kiara turned out to be completely opposite. She was an honest and simple girl without an ounce of arrogance. He laughed silently at his own foolish prejudiced mind. Her family just moved to Bangalore and she was quick to fall in love and settle in the new country. She was an ardent traveler and she has been busy exploring the country ever since she arrived. Rishaan and Kiara’s first meeting was rather funny.
‘What do you do Rish…What? I am sorry but your name sounds too funny to me. And I cannot remember it either’ She chuckles.
‘No problem Ma’am. My name is actually funny. I do nothing actually! After my glossy Engineering days, I worked for a few years for an IT firm. Then one fine day, some eerie inner voice screamed at me, “enough is enough!” That very day I quit my job, prepared for entrances, and got into an institute called IIM Lucknow, which you foreign return might not be aware of. Then I worked for a few months. Another eerie voice warned me. I quit yet again and currently, I am struggling as a founder of a start-up for around two years funded by my rich dad. So, technically, I am jobless and useless’.
‘Hmm. That sounds very interesting sir. Tell me, currently, how many States and Union Territories does India have?’
‘Huh! What? 26?’
‘Sir the latest is 29 States and 7 Union Territories. I just wanted to test how much better the local boy as compared to the foreign return imported hot girl.’ Kiara giggled unveiling her adorable dimples.
Rishaan quietly stole a glance at her dimple. There was a sudden commotion in his mind and body which he found extremely difficult to construe. It’s been ages, almost a decade since he felt this kind of strange feelings for a girl. Maybe the last one was during his engineering days.
Within fifteen days after the meeting, Rishaan and Kiara got engaged in a very private ceremony. Kiara had requested for three months courtship period to understand each other well before they finally tie the knot. Thus, in order to avoid making this heavenly match an overt, Rituporna decided on having a low key engagement with only close friends and relatives.
Rishaan was all head over heels for Kiara. Down to Earth, ever smiling, witty, intelligent and beautiful Kiara made him go weak at his knees. He silently cursed her for adding those additional three months. However, days passed by pretty fast.
20 days to wedding:
A chilly European evening. In a quaint little Swiss town, beside Chapel Bridge the newlywed couple is seated in a roadside café. While Kiara is mesmerized by the colorful reflection on the Reuss and cannot take her eyes off, Rishaan is mesmerized by the beauty of his new wife and cannot take his eyes off her.
Tring tring….Annoying phone call decides to wake up Rishaan from the fantasy World.
‘Hey! You still asleep? You coming with me to pick my cousin from the Airport, right? Hope you remember?’
‘Hi hey. Yes yes. I woke up now. Yes, I remember. I have adjusted my schedules already. Anything for you babes’. Rishaan muffled with unclear words like a parasomniac with half his mind still in his sweet honeymoon dreams.
‘Ok, great. I will pick you up sharp at 5 from your office then. Gotta go. Bye now’.
‘Ok. See you. Bye’.
After picking up Rishaan from his Whitefield office, the duo started crawling amid that infamous Bangalore traffic.
‘Look Rishaan don’t be so lovey-dovey in front of my cousin sister alright. She had a broken marriage and separated just recently’.
Never ending traffic and Kiara’s honeyed chats drew him in to the deepest slumber ever. That sudden hypnic jerk was actually a hard pat on his shoulder.
‘Idiot wake up! See my loveliest cousin Miss Diya is here’.
Rishaan couldn’t figure out why he felt a sudden unanticipated apprehension on hearing that particular name. He silently prayed for the best. An optimistic voice from within trying to convince himself, “there can be uncountable people bearing same name”. He almost fainted as an eerily familiar slim tall girl with those familiar strides slowly approached them. That fragrance, uniform burgundy streaks with few curly streaks carelessly placed in the front, long strides like a sweet storm. As Diya approached nearer, Rishaan turned into a wobbly structure struggling to be straight. Once she arrived, it all felt like indescribable vague conversations in the dark.
Rishaan tossed and turned the entire night that day. It was an insane insomniac night with ocean of crazy rewind of memories. When everything seemed so settled, nature has to bounce back with surprisingly hilarious and absurd twist. He couldn’t help but chuckle at his own extremely ridiculous fate.
‘I am fed up of you Rishaan! You just had your record breaking 7th break up yesterday and you idiot again started Prank calls? What’s up with your pervert hormones dude? I really can’t keep saving your ass every time okay. This is the last and final warning. You better brace yourself to be tagged as an infamous pervert college drop out!’ Diya’s face was distorted with rage.
‘What is this Diya? Will you be able to survive if your best friend is thrown out of college?’ Rishaan pulls her strands of hair laying in the front with a mischievous smile.
‘Stop this. You better stop this okay. Or else I am warning you will have to stop calling me your friend, forget calling me your best friend. You know, I am never going to fall for your stupid emotional blackmail, don’t you?’
Diya and Rishaan were poles apart but inseparable souls. So much so that entire college were convinced, they were a couple, much in love. They first met during the counselling, befriended and the bond stayed strong all four years of their engineering. In the end it was indeed a tragic and abrupt ending for them.
For attractive, intelligent and rich spoilt brat, it was rather a breeze for Rishaan to woo a girl. It was his hobby to date a new girl every semester. Diya was the one who kept him grounded.
It was after that particular Ooty trip in final year, some amusing turn of events started to occur. Diya discovered an indifferent and cold attitude in Rishaan towards her. He skipped their regular evening beach dates citing absurd excuses. Diya couldn’t bear it any longer and burst out in front of him one evening.
‘You don’t need to shed these crocodile tears! And what are you trying to prove by crying in front of me, sitting beside me in class? Why don’t you go and cry in front of that asshole Shankar! Like a chewing gum you were stuck to him whole time during the trip!’ Rishaan yelled at her like an idiot.
Diya gawped at him in complete silence for whole long two minutes. She couldn’t figure out an appropriate language to reply him.
From then on, everything was different. College ended before they could even fathom out the exact reason of this new feelings, weird turn of events. It was in the last day of college when Rishaan got the shock of his life. He was handed over with marriage invite of Diya and some rich dude settled in the US.
‘I have been trying to tell you this for long Rishaan. But, you started to behave so weird. I didn’t dare to tell you. The whole process was going on for long, since the beginning of my third year of college. I simply didn’t have the courage to tell you even after it was finalized. Especially, when you acted so strange after our Ooty trip’.
Rishaan never understood why he felt so blank that day. He felt like everything collapsed under his feet. Maybe he was too young to understand. Maybe Diya was too innocent to understand the whole thing. He couldn’t speak a word, gathered lots of courage and finally could speak only one sentence.
‘I am so happy for you Diya!’ And he walked away very far from her.
He couldn’t stop himself from calling her two days before her marriage. Diya’s mother picked up the call and started venting out all her anger.
‘You claimed to be Diya Maa’s Best friend and you are calling now. You have no shame. I am an old lady working for her marriage, can’t you young person come and help me out!’
Finally, Diya came on the other side of the receiver. He struggled hard to keep his tears away. His voice choked. He sensed the struggle on the other side too. They spoke thousand words silently that day. They silently complained to each other. Silently screamed and blamed each other.
‘Why did you make it so late? Why didn’t you understand this before me, before it was too late??….’
Knock knock….Rishaan suddenly woke up due to loud knock at the door and sat on his bed in trance state. Heavily gasping for his breath, wiping off his sweat, his hands violently moved towards the glass of water on the bedside table. He nervously crawled to the door and opened it.
He was welcomed by a warm smile of his Mother. He got too nervous and hugged Rituporna as tight as he could.
‘What happened honey? My small baby. Did you have some bad dream or something? Come brush fast and get ready for the office fast. I am also getting late. Your papa already left for some Meeting.
And yeah. Kiara called you almost ten times. Why do you keep your phone on silent? I guess she has something very important to tell you. Call her immediately okay’,
Rishaan finally came to senses and hurried towards airport to meet Kiara. His oblivious state of mind panicked when he realized Kiara was accompanied by Diya. It was Kiara’s sudden plan to take both of them to Goa to her friend’s wedding to try and divert Diya’s mind from her broken marriage. Unfortunately, both of them were informed with only the partial plan. None of them knew that the other person apart from Kiara is also going to be part of the Trip. Rishaan suddenly got bit annoyed. However, he tried to compose himself to avoid creating a scene. He became desperate to talk to Diya like before. A sweet commotion happened inside his heart and mind. He didn’t know if it was ethical to crave for his first love while seated beside his fiancé, his current love of his life. He tried to decode the real meaning of loyalty. He debated with his inner self, “this particular state of mind doesn’t mean he leans towards infidelity”. He consoled himself, he still loves Kiara, and he is still committed to her. Craving for his first love, his past is just a temporary state of mind, human state of mind.
In the middle of the flight, Kiara had to get up to attend to nature’s call. When she returned, she was too lazy to push her way into the middle seat again. And with Rishaan readily offering to shift seats, the seating arrangement changed. With another twenty minutes still to go, sleep starved Kiara decided to take another quick power nap, this time holding Rishaan’s right hand firmly. Rishaan’s other hand, though nervously moved to touch Diya’s. Her heart skipped a bit. Diya pulled her hand immediately in reflex. But a defiant Rishaan couldn’t control himself and held her wrist firmly and more reassuringly. There was a change in behavioral dynamics between the three which forecasted the upcoming twisted events that were bound to happen in Goa.
The trio finally landed in Dabolim airport. It was again an uncomfortable situation when Kiara insisted both of them to head towards the hotel booked for them without her. She quickly wanted to touch base with her “bride-to-be” friend before heading towards the hotel.
With obvious perceptible hesitance, Rishaan boarded the car with Diya to head towards the Hotel. He didn’t really have any idea how to behave. Happy, excited or fear! Only a short while back, he was craving to hold her hand but suddenly he hesitated to accompany her alone to the hotel rooms.
It was around 7 PM in the evening when Rishaan was busy taking his nap in the hotel room. A beautiful pleasant evening. It was that Christmas and New Year time in Goa when it looked like a newlywed bride with all the pomp and galore.
Rishaan almost jumped from his bed and opened the door. He never felt happier before to have the most pleasant sight of that lively, overly dimpled smile of Kiara.
‘I love you Kiara. Please marry me soon darling!’
‘What! Did you have some nightmare? I thought one month was too early for you’. She notoriously blinked her right eye.
‘By the way. My friend is super excited to marry her boy-friend. They were in love for some ten years. How boring!’
‘Yes indeed my Kiara baby. Ten year is too long. Long enough to move on, to fall in love with another person, to get desperate for the other person after they are separated’.
‘Rishaan what is wrong with you today. Why are you so philosophical? I can’t bear this’.
‘Never mind, my would-be beautiful wife. I am forever “Yours Lovingly”’
‘Oh by the way, FYI, your cousin left for Madgaon. Apparently, her Husband’s elder sister is here. She was missing her husband a lot so she left to meet his sister’.
‘Oh, so nice to hear this. I know they are going to patch up. I am so happy for them. Rishaan marry me fast please. Sorry for imposing three months long wait darling’.
Kiara hugs him as tightly as she can. The serene beach across the window was more lit up and lively. Entire Goa dazzled with its undying spirit. Everything seemed so perfect suddenly.
This story was first published here