Monday, February 15, 2016

Estranged Love

It all seemed like yesterday when she was in his arms and he was playing with her hairs. It’s been three years now, and every morning Rishaan still wakes up with the same dream. But there was none in his arms and it was her memories that played with his mind. Diya had left three years back with just a note “It’s time for me to leave. We are not meant to be together.”  He still wondered what went wrong between them. Diya simply vanished and no matter how much he tried he couldn’t contact or find her. Neither the social networking sites nor their mutual friends could help. Within a short span of time the memories of London and Diya got buried deep somewhere. He pretended to have forgotten everything but she had become an inseparable part of him.

Kiara sat on her princess bed looking at the solitaire diamond on her finger and beaming. She couldn’t help smiling remembering the moment when Rishaan went down on his knees and slipped it on her finger. The phone rang and dreamily she responded “I miss you. Just can’t wait for tomorrow!! I have a surprise for you.” Rishaan was holding Diya’s note in his hands and was distracted. His usual response was “hmmm” or an “okay”. Even that didn’t stop Kiara’s excitement and she would go on chirping like a bird. Rishaan never had the guts to speak about his past. Kiara was the woman he is supposed to marry. She was his mother’s choice and she was perfect. But sadly he knew she wouldn’t ever replace Diya. “Hello? Rishaaan??” she shouted. Rishaan was zapped back to reality “yea I was listening. I have some work, will talk later...see you at the airport tomorrow.”   
     
 Kiara ran like a zombie and hugged Rishaan at the airport and whispered “now it’s time for surprise.” She moved aside, turned and shouted “Diiyaaa!!” Rishaan’s eyes didn’t buzz a bit. There she was!! She didn’t have her usual long hair that he adored. Her hair was all messy and short with specks of red and purple. She was in a pair of faded jeans and a sweatshirt. She didn’t have any make up on her face. But she looked like a poem that he wanted to read over and over again. Diya stood like a statue.
Rishaan meet my childhood buddy Diya. I just wanted you two to meet before our wedding. Hence I planned this trip with the two most important people of my life. Diya works with some strange people at a strange place in Africa. Her work never made any sense to me. She couldn’t attend our engagement. And I decided I would surprise the two of you.” Kiara went on speaking breathlessly. She finally nudged Rishaan “at least have the courtesy to say hello to her.” But before he could respond anything Diya said “shouldn’t we be checking in now?”

In the middle of the flight, Kiara woke up to go the washroom. When she returned, she was too lazy to push her way into the middle seat. And with Rishaan readily offering to shift seats, the seating arrangement changed. With 20 minutes still remaining for the flight to land, a sleep starved Kiara took another power nap, this time holding Rishaan's right hand more firmly. Rishaan's other hand, though, nervously moved to touch Diya's. Her heart skipped a beat. Diya pulled her hand away. But a defiant Rishaan held her wrist again, this time firmly and more reassuringly. The changing behavioral dynamics between the three perhaps gave out a foreboding of what was to come in Goa.

When the flight landed at the Dabolim Airport, Rishaan felt uncanny..his excitement seemed replaced by an unknown fear that he found very difficult to decipher.

The drive to the hotel was the longest and most silent they ever had. Kiara was still half asleep. Diya and Rishaan were lost in a world only they knew to have existed. Rishaan remembered the first time he had seen her at a friend’s party. Her long hair dancing with the music, that sparkle in her smile that made him fall for her just at the first sight, their first drive, their first kiss, how he had held her waist and how she had closed her eyes. He kept telling himself let it all go. He looked at Diya. Her colourful hairs looked even messier, her face didn’t express any emotions and her eyes were hidden by the huge black shades. He should let go off everything, he should let go off her. It was who she was not who she is now.

Diya complained of a headache and excused herself and decided to remain in her room for the whole day. She knew she couldn’t avoid them like this. Late in the evening she walked down to the beach to meet them. Rishaan and Kiara were walking on the beach holding each other’s hands and Kiara’s head rested on his shoulder. Diya decided not to intrude and found herself a place to sit and wait for them. She couldn’t help looking at them. She was sad. But she wasn’t sure what made her sad. There was one person who she loved and there was another who she thought she loved. But nevertheless both of them loved her. Wasn’t she supposed to be happy for them? She couldn’t stand the sight of the two kissing. She wasn’t sure what disturbed her more. Was it Rishaan? Or did she wish to be kissed that way? Or was it just Kiara? She couldn’t stand her being kissed. She remembered the first time they had made love at her London apartment. Rishaan had told her it was the best night of his life. And after he was asleep she had stayed awake the whole night smoking and wondering why she didn’t find anything pleasant or magical about the night. She could never experience the same excitement. She thought she did a mistake coming to Goa. She never thought it would be this difficult seeing Kiara with Rishaan. She gulped down her drink along with the words and thoughts that choked her. The evening just got worse when Kiara went to freshen up leaving Rishaan and Diya to bond with each other. Diya found it more than uncomfortable to be with Rishaan. She was guilty of having left him without any explanation three years back and now she meets him as her best friend’s fiancée.

Rishaan looked at Diya’s sad eyes and asked “Didn’t I deserve an explanation?” 
Diya sipped her drink and spoke in a soft voice “I am happy for both of you.” 
 Rishaan held her hand tightly and said “Really? Are you happy about the fact that I am getting married to your best friend and I am still in love with you? It’s time Kiara should know about us.”
 “Rishaan it was past. Kiara is perfect for you. Please don’t spoil it. I don’t owe you any explanation. I stopped feeling for you and so I left. You deserve better. Trust me you do.” She got up and left.
Rishaan banged his hand on the table and spilled his drink.

Kiara stood there unnoticed. Her surprise had turned into a shock. In a matter of few seconds her world had turned upside down. She wished she had never heard them. She wished she had never planned this trip. She wasn’t sure which was better, not knowing this or knowing the truth and feeling the emptiness and pain that had engulfed her in just few seconds. Everything was as beautiful as a fairy tale till that moment. In a fraction of seconds the two most important people of her life became strangers. She felt betrayed. She stood there crying unable to move. She hoped and wished it was just a bad dream and when she gets up things will be the way they were, perfect.

The night had turned lively. The beach was full of life and fun. The three of them were lost in their world of loneliness. Diya packed up her bags and decided to leave the very next day. This was the biggest mistake she had committed in the last three years coming back to meet none other than Kiara and her fiancée who turns out to be Rishaan. She had promised herself to be away from them and she failed to keep it. She was scared of Kiara knowing the truth. How will she react? Will she ever forgive Diya? Will Rishaan keep her happy? What if he doesn’t? Her mind kept shooting these questions and she didn’t have an answer to any. Life never seemed more complicated to her. She knew she could have avoided these complications and life could have been more kind to her if she had loved Rishaan the way he had loved her. She wished she hadn’t left him. She wished she wasn’t what she was all about. She hated herself. She should have told him everything. That could have helped him get over her.

Kiara sat near Rishaan listening to the waves. They didn’t utter any words and sat silently staring at the sky and listening to the waves for hours.
Finally Rishaan spoke “Kiara I am sorry, there is something you should know about my past which I haven’t ever mentioned before.”
“I know what it is Rishaan” she spoke softly holding his hand..
For the first time ever Rishaan wanted to bare his soul to Kiara. His past which he had carried all this while more like a pain that sucked his happiness away. He wanted to tell her how sorry he was for breaking her heart but at the same time he didn’t want to hide his love for Diya. But his mouth couldn’t utter a single word it was just his eyes that spoke. He was afraid to look at Kiara.

Kiara’s voice choked as she spoke “When you came into my life I thought everything was perfect..life couldn’t have been better..But I was wrong. This whole trip was wrong. I was drunk on the idea that you were my prince charming and you make my life perfect. I was again wrong. Nobody can make our life perfect. We have to do it ourselves. If we marry each other it would be wrong. I don’t want to tell an older Kiara that my marriage was wrong. You might try and spend the rest of your life trying to fall in love with me and maybe you never will. You might end up spending the rest of your life being with me and loving someone else. You can never be happy that way, we both can never be happy that way. My idea of a perfect life will be ruined. I want to make my life perfect. I am sad but at the same time I am happy that we both know what we want right now. It isn’t that late. Perhaps this is the last time I am speaking to you. You know Rishaan, sometimes we end up not speaking to a person who meant the world to us. We want to be with that person but we know it isn’t possible. But that’s okay. Life teaches us to survive. I am sure I will cope up with this.”

She took out the diamond solitaire and placed it on Rishaan’s palm and said “if you love Diya so much don’t let her go. Maybe she is still waiting for you.”  

Rishaan was too shocked and guilty to respond. Kiara left.

The moon had bid goodbye and the sun was about to paint the sky orange and red. Rishaan still sat on the beach with empty beer cans for company. He was still holding Kiara’s ring. He was confused. He never loved Kiara but wasn’t he supposed to stop her? He wished he had apologised properly, he wished he had done something to ease her pain. She didn’t deserve this, neither did he. He pocketed the ring and remembered her last words “maybe she is still waiting for you.”  He rushed back to the hotel hoping she is actually waiting.
Diya was standing near her room, not sure whether to leave without a goodbye or to talk to Kiara one last time and wish her a happy life or maybe make Rishaan understand. She couldn’t make out which of these was more difficult.

Planning to leave without an explanation and goodbye again?” She was caught off guard by Rishaan. Before she could say anything he held her hand and pulled her inside the room. Rishaan took out the ring and placed it on the table and said “she heard everything last night. She left.”

Diya’s eyes were flooded with tears. She turned her back to Rishaan and made sure he didn’t see her face. “Why didn’t you stop her Rishaan?
“Because I still love you. I can only be happy with you. You are the one for me. I wish to be with you. I really love you” Rishaan spoke and moved towards her.

Diya could feel his breath heavy on her hairs. She knew it was time for him to know the truth. She felt weak at her knees. She sat down on the chair. She cried like never before and spoke her heart out for the first time.  “Rishaan I am not the one for you. I am not what and who you think I am. You can never be happy with me. When I met you I tried to love you, to cherish you. I wanted to be like any other normal girl.I tried..I really did… I am sorry for everything..But I couldn’t be a normal girl. I couldn’t love you the way you loved me, the way people normally do. You know why? Because I was already in love. I couldn’t love you the way you did because I am not capable of loving you, I am not capable of loving any man.” She broke down and cried profusely.

Rishaan asked “you said you were already in love?”
“Yes..I loved Kiara..” She said slowly. 

This was followed by an awkward silence that Diya couldn’t stand. She wiped away her tears and left.

Two days later Rishaan sat drunk on the beach. He knew he would be fine. He will survive. Eventually he will learn to live; the three of them will learn to live. He messaged Kiara “maybe she was waiting for you..I am sorry for everything..” Kiara's phone beeped. She deleted the message without reading and dumped her phone into the dustbin.

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