Sakshi. The protagonist of this story is a bubbly, cheerful girl who is crazy. Crazy, because her insanity knows no limits. She can do anything anytime. Even she doesn't know what she would be doing. She can talk for hours nonstop and you will feel like stuffing her mouth with some cloth to make her stop but she uses her innocent face to change your mind. In simple words, she is the Satan personified.
Rudra. The boy who was destined to change everything in her life. A boy in his late 18, well built frame, light stubble and carefully messed up hair, it was pity to look at him. If you ever knew a person like him, you would not wish to introduce him to your family or acknowledge him at a get together. Yet, he had a strange aura that could cause a person to change his premonition and get attracted to him helplessly. How he did that was a mystery for the world around him. No matter how much you averted him, if he wanted to be near you, you couldn't say no to him. In fact, you would voluntarily drift to him.
Sakshi had been her usual self that day. She was trying to go from her balcony to her neighbour's from a shorter way. She was trying to reach her destination by walking over pipes that had been plastered well to the wall. Her flat was on the first floor and had a walking space in front where the colony people walked. But it had been winter so not many people were there. When she was midway, she finally became conscious of what she had been doing and her confidence faltered. Her feet were sweating and her slippers slipped off. She looked around. Only one boy was visible who had been observing her for the last half an hour. He just sat on a bench in his matt green sweater and looked at her with a constant smile on his face. She knew that if she would shout for help, an evening session on "Safety at Home" would be held at home with hundreds of speakers and only one listener. She couldn't think of herself becoming a household name for wrong reasons. She beckoned to the boy by waving at him. He waved back. The smile never left him.
Sakshi looked at him with her innocent face and he found himself helplessly drawn towards her. He stood up and was soon out of her field of vision. She dared not look down as she was already scared enough. She shut her eyes but opened them seconds later because she felt something on her shoulder. She saw someone who left her dumbstruck. The boy was standing beside her, the same smile on his face. She was angry as well as relieved to see him. But her anger increased when he said, "Hi. I'm Rudra. If you want to stay alive and keep all this thing a secret, hug me tight enough so that you don't slip off." She looked at him with narrowed eyes and said, "You are so sick. Just because I'm in trouble, you are trying to hit on me?" She turned her head away.
He continued to smile and said, "I was just trying to help. You can wait until someone else spots you here. I'm getting away." He turned to leave. She felt she was losing her final opportunity of being saved so she called him. He turned and she lunged at him like a deadly beast jumps on its prey. She hugged him tight, her fingers clutching each other around his neck like her eyelashes. She rose for a minute and then her feet touched cool marble. The texture assured her that she stood in her balcony but she was still afraid to open her eyes. She felt something cool close to her nape as if Rudra was breathing close to ears and she opened her eyes quickly. She found him standing in front of her with the same smile on his face. What was it with him and his smile? Her face burned with rage as she squealed, "How dare you sniff at my nape?"
He stood calmly in front of her and said, "I didn't. I think you should relax." All this while she had been noticing his features. He had large almond shaped eyes and a peaceful appearance. He had a broad forehead and a light swelling between his eyebrows. She thought it must be some scar, going by his stupid acts. He wore a light blue scarf around his neck and she noticed three sharp lines below his ears. His face radiated positive and peaceful vibes. She kept staring at him absent-mindedly as he left from the way he had entered. She felt scared of Rudra because of his aura . It was too good to be true. She could not think of anything else that night. She regretted not asking his whereabouts because her mind provoked her to meet this mystic person again. But she did not have long to wait as their destinies had been entwined with each other.
The place is very scary, more like a nightmare. It is new moon night and the sky is studded with fiery glowing stars. The smell of burning human flesh is choking and she feels like throwing up her last night dinner. The crematorium has scores of funeral pyres burning with the stray dogs barking at each other. The eerie place makes a chill run down her spine. She notices a boy in the graveyard, all alone. She cannot see his face as he is turned to the other side. His scarf is a bit lower and is radiating a bluish hue. He is bareback, all his muscles appearing just in perfect proportion, offering a visual treat. She notices wisps of smoke and goes to confront the boy.
"Rudra?" she asks, her voice giving way to her fear. He puts his chillum down. As he turns towards her, she notices his eyes. They were red and drowsy. "You should not run after everything that appeals to you," Rudra said. His sleepy voice made him even more scary. The strong stench of marijuana choked her and she began to run out of fear. She stumbled upon one of the rocks and was about to fall directly on a funeral pyre when someone caught her hand just in time. She saw his face and let out a loud scream.
Sakshi woke up in her bed. She was sweating profusely. It did not appear to be a dream. She felt that she knew the place well. Moreover, she could not forget the passionate eyes of her saviour. She had never seen someone so calm and peaceful at a crematorium. She made a mental note of looking out for Rudra the next day. As her eyes were devoid of sleep, she decided to draw something. She took a pencil and drew absent-mindedly on the last page of her notebook. What she ended up drawing was no surprise to her. She had drawn the same graveyard and a pair of passionate eyes staring back.
The next day, she kept waiting for the school to get over. She had informed her friends that she won't be joining them at coaching classes as she had some unavoidable task to complete. She packed her bag, a water bottle and some biscuits. She also carried her cellphone and put her Daddy on speed dial "2". She was ready for an emergency but was actually thrilled about the adventure she was about to embark.
She didn't know where to start looking for him. It was like looking out for a needle in a stack of hay. And the hay is placed in a dark room. She decided to go by instinct. Rudra looked like a playful boy. His tanned skin gave her the hint that he must be roaming in the outdoors during daytime so she went out to look for him in all the famous parks. She looked at every passersby and waited for one of the faces to turn out to be that of Rudra. Those big almond-shaped eyes, that made you calm down and feel like time has become a dwarf. She searched for him for hours. She scanned Gandhi Maidan, the biggest park in her city. She went to all the children park. The sun raced towards the west, its lower circumference now kissing the horizon. Sakshi didn't know what to do. Somewhere deep down she felt she was looking at the wrong place.
She didn't know what made her do so but she raced towards the ghats. At this time of the day, only a few of them were supposed to be visited owing to the number of chainsmokers and alcoholics making it their picnic spot. Being their all alone was like a bleating new born kid running towards a hungry fierce lion. Sakshi had the gift of craziness and she used it to rush towards the Bans Ghat without any second thoughts.
The Bans Ghat was the crematorium of the city. It had all the facilities to help you out in performing the final rites of your family members. These days they also had the agents who managed everything, from shroud to priests. There were package to help you choose between the allotment for your loved ones to heaven. Sakshi came her to look for Rudra, driven by her instinct rather than rationality like the last time.
The place gave her a sense of déja vù as it was so much similar to her dream. The place had fewer people, most of them weeping loudly, crying out the name of their relatives. The flames consumed the body slowly and the roasting human flesh was just another thing to add to the misery of the place. The head of the crematorium made a boy take an iron rod and strike at the skull of the corpse which had been burning for a while. The boy looked weak, probably because of the hours of crying. The man kept shouting ruthlessly, "The harder you hit, the sooner his soul will leave for heavenly abode. Break open his skull." He struck hard and a gelatinous pink liquid oozed out of the crack. The black smoke hit Sakshi's nostrils and she ran out. Her eyes had welled up. She noticed horrified eyes staring at her as girls are not permitted at a crematorium. She ran to the Rajendra Ghat and stood at its gate, resting against the wall. As the image of the liquid brain came back to her mind, she threw up.
Everyone around her saw her. Sakshi felt too weak to continue standing and sat down on the pavement. Her head was aching with all the images she had just confronted. She felt someone approaching towards her. As she lifted her head, she noticed 4 boys in early 20s coming towards her. The shortest one behind let out a puff of smoke and passed his cigarette to the fattest guy who wore a faded "Being Human" T-shirt. Sakshi cursed herself for her stupid decision and shut her eyes, wishing this to be a nightmare.
A hand placed at her shoulder made her let out a loud scream. She screamed her lungs out and felt a palm trying to shut her up. She bit hard but a strange stench clogged her nose and she gave up. She opened her eyes to see something that only strengthened her déja vù feeling.
Large almond-shaped eyes, drowsy and red stared at her with passion as if the person was struggling in controlling himself from consuming her. The mark between the eyebrows was more prominent today. His scarf was loosened at the edges and a bluish hue emitted from his nape. The three sharp lines on his neck were like a big rugged 'W' written with a straight vertical line symmetrically dividing the mark. His forehead appeared to be tensed. His other hand had a pipe from which a light orange yellow glow emitted wisps of smoke. Sakshi felt she should be scared of this beast but she wasn't. Strange enough, she felt safe.
Rudra looked in the eyes of the muscular guy in the group who looked like the leader. The guy couldn't match his fierce glare and beckoned his friends to back out. They entered the Rajendra Ghat, the place where Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first president of India was cremated. Sadly, the place was now used as an anti social center where the hooligans of the city sat down to perfume their lungs with cigarettes and wash their kidneys with alcohol.
Rudra now looked at Sakshi. She looked relieved. Rudra took two deep breaths and spoke, "Why do you keep inviting trouble for everyone? Didn't I tell you not to run after everything that appeals to you?" Sakshi felt sorry for her olfactory senses as Rudra stunk of marijuana.
"Are you stupid? Why do you smoke marijuana? Don't you know it's injurious to health? And at such a young age? Do your parents know? Should I tell them? What is wrong with you? I'm very angry. Don't keep standing quietly, answer me Rudra," Sakshi scolded him. Rudra heard the laughter of the 4 boys. One strong glare and they scurried away. He was irritated and spoke to Sakshi as calmly as he could.
"Let me make one thing very clear. I don't have anyone in this world. Nor do I want anyone. I'm happy and contended with myself and don't need your expertise. I'm not interested in your biological knowledge about me and my grass. I saved your life. So just be grateful and leave me alone. I'm clearly not something you should be looking for," Rudra said. His eyes didn't leave Sakshi's for once. He would have continued but he noticed her eyes had welled up. He decided to stop. Her tears had other ideas.
A teardrop traced its path over her cheekbone, down to the corner of her lips and traced her jawline, finally falling on the ground. Soon enough, a stream of tears followed the same path. She said softly, "I was wrong. I thought you were good but you weren't. Go sit with those drunkards and knock out of your senses. How can you be so insensitive and have drugs at a place where there is so much pain and suffering? People are dying everyday of strange diseases but they want to live. You are healthy but you want to die. Do whatever you want. Don't meet me ever again. Go to hell!" Rudra watched her silently, his chillum fidgeting between his fingers.
Sakshi called for an auto. She saw one approaching her. She wanted to have a last look at Rudra, the boy who had saved her twice but wasn't as good as her had appeared to be. The treasure hunt had been the biggest oxymoron of her life. She hunted for it, found the treasure before it turned out to be trash. She controlled herself as she didn't want him to feel she was weak. As the auto stopped, Rudra spoke, "See you after a month in Rajgir."
Sakshi was startled. How could he be so fearless to expect her to meet him at a place she had absolutely no chance to be? And that too in a month. She sat in the auto and looked at him. She saw the chillum raised to his face which was all covered with smoke. She told the driver to move. Similar white smoke was emitted by the auto as it headed towards Sakshi's destination.
All the way to her home, Sakshi kept wondering about many things. One thing connected them all - Rudra. She wondered how he felt so confident about the Rajgir meeting. She didn't realise she had reached her home until the driver asked her if there had been any mistake. She paid the driver and left.
She went in and didn't talk to anyone. Her parents thought it might have been a tough day at the coaching classes and she needs some lone time so they didn't say anything. She went to her room and rushed to her washroom for a quick shower. As the cold water touched her forehead, a question struck her mind, "How did Rudra know what he told me in my dreams?" She was scared and experienced goosebumps which refused to settle down soon. She knew at that very instant that nothing had been a coincidence. She also knew that Rudra was hiding something. She knew that she wouldn't meet him until she reaches Rajgir. What she didn't know was how would she go to Rajgir.
"Why do you want to go to Rajgir all of a sudden? We don't have any relatives there. And why do you insist on going there next month? If you want to be there, why not this weekend? What will you do there?" Sakshi's dad asked her these questions and she knew at once that it wasn't going to be a road trip. Running away again? But that too seemed less likely as Rudra would not want her in trouble yet again. Besides she would not be able to make it to Rajgir and the retreat during her coaching classes time, forget all this alone. She finally left it all to fate, knowing that Rudra had already scripted hers.
Her class teacher announced next day in class, "Dear students, we have been discussed about the school trip. How many of you are interested?" Sakshi saw almost all hands raised around her. When did this happen, she wondered. Maybe when she was planning the treasure hunt. She noticed her class teacher look at her, his drooping pencil moustache with the greys shivering as he spoke, "Why Sakshi? Why you not taking part in group activity? You must come. You must develop the habit..." Before he could say anything further, Sakshi said, "I'll be there for sure, Sir."
In her mind, she jumped with joy and said, "See you soon Rudra."
The whole month was spent by her in planning how she would act when she would confront Rudra. Sometimes, she would think about being formal as if nothing happened. Then she switched to the angry mode. Only excitement remained same. As the day of school trip approached, she began to become apprehensive and planned to call it off. She didn't want to feel awkward and wondered if ghosting was an option. Maybe it would help if she never went to Rajgir. Let Rudra remain a mystery. But that would mean losing a part of her already small brain. She always thought she was the smartest but she knew that if the brains of all human beings ever born were arranged in ascending order, she would top the list. But she had given up thinking about the brain after the sight at the crematorium.
The school bus moved swiftly on the Bypass road. Sakshi occupied the middle row seat along with her friend who was busy talking to a tall guy from their class. Sakshi didn't feel like disturbing them as she would forget all her questions for Rudra. Soon enough, the bus reached its destination. The bus had slowed down at the foot of the hill on the top of which was situated the Vishwa Shanti Stoop. Sakshi's pulse rate had increased as she had been waiting for this day for almost a month. She adjusted her blue and white sweater and the blue floral print palazzo, took her bag and rushed towards her class group.
Few students who had little stamina stood in queue for the ticket to the ropeway. Sakshi wanted that too but stopped. She wondered, "What if I have to meet him on the foot road? It was anyway impossible to react him even if I spot him on the ropeway." She joined her class group which was ready to go by road to the hilltop. The boy who was talking to her friend was still there with her. She smiled at some thought in her mind but said nothing. She waited for her friend to look at her. When she had an eye contact, she raised an eyebrow and smiled. Her friend got the clue and blushed. Lucky girl, Sakshi thought.
Sakshi trudged the whole path with great difficulty. She saw the beautiful view but she was expecting someone else. She stopped quite a few times but finally managed to reach the hilltop.
A troop of monkeys howled at her. She tried to hide behind her friends. One of them tried to offer biscuits to the primates. The monkey showed that it was well above him on the evolution ladder and snatched away the whole packet. Everyone was enjoying the scenes. Soon enough they saw the famous Vishwa Shanti Stoop.
A big dome shaped white structure stood on a big platform in front of her. It had four statues of Buddha facing in four different directions. The structure was supposed to be constructed on Buddhist monks relics. As Sakshi climbed the stupa, she felt a strange peacefulness and serenity. She knew for sure that Rudra was close by.
She saw people heading towards an old building. She wondered what it was. She requested her friend to join but she was too busy in her newly developed interest. Sakshi decided to go there alone. Walking on the stone path, she reached the place and glanced at it.
A statue of Lord Shiva was situated inside with his famous Trishul on his side and his Nandi bull close to his feet. She went close to have a look. Lord Shiva was in his famous meditation posture, his eyes shut, a faint smile at his lips and his third eye protruding on his forehead. A cobra lay around his neck which adorned him like a necklace. Around his loins was his famous tiger skin which he used as a clothing as well as a mat. Sakshi wondered why she felt strangely familiar with the statue as if she had seen the statue somewhere.
She bowed in respect and wished for the fulfilment of her wish. As she came out of the temple, she saw the face she had been waiting for. The peaceful smile was back. The positive vibes were back. The anger was lost. Rudra had weaved his magic around her. Yet again.
Sakshi went to him and said, "What are you doing here?" Rudra replied, "I wanted to make up for that day. I shouldn't have behaved that way. I really felt bad about the way I treated you. Please forgive me."
Sakshi said, "It's okay. But I want you to answer some of my questions." Rudra smiled and said, "It seems you have planned a lot for this trip. Let me show you something that I have planned. Then you can ask me anything you want."
Sakshi hesitated. She barely knew this ever smiling, marijuana addict, mood swing Rudra. Would it be safe to trust him? She was confused. Deep within, her choice had already been made. After debating within herself for 2 minutes, she chose to go with Rudra.
They left her class group and Rudra told her to follow him. She knew it could have been the biggest mistake of her life. She kept dropping her hair clips down the path in case they lost the track or she needs to run back. But Rudra appeared to be so sure-footed that she trusted him even more. Suddenly, Rudra stopped. Sakshi didn't have long to wait to know the answer.
In front of her was an old, dilapidated stone structure with creepers covering the outer walls. Rudra told her to hold her hand as the stone in front of her was slippery. Sakshi noticed he was barefooted. She saw that he was waiting for her hand and she smiled at she remembered their first meeting. She knew Rudra enough to trust him this time and grabbed his hand.
Rudra led her to the building. She saw the conical top and realised it was a temple. Rudra wiped away the climbers in front and led Sakshi in. Inside was a statue of Lord Ram with his bow by his side and the other hand offering his blessings. His long locks were tied in a man-bun on his head. He had big, innocent eyes and an attractive calmness across his face. Even though the place hardly seemed to have any visitor lately, Sakshi could feel the presence of many people inside. She turned towards Rudra and saw him deeply engaged in his prayers. She tugged at his shirt and asked him to come out of the temple. Rudra bowed and moved out.
As they were about to cross the threshold of the temple, Sakshi stopped Rudra. She pointed towards a black King Cobra slithering its way inside the temple. Rudra still appeared unaffected and smiled at her. The snake hooded in front of them and appears to be staring at Rudra. Rudra looked at the snake and whispered to Sakshi, "Bow and greet and it will leave for sure."
Had he told Sakshi to do somersaults to make the snake go, she would have complied. She quickly bowed and began praying. Rudra smiled at her innocence. The snake crawled its way into the temple and slid behind Lord Ram's statue. Sakshi drew a breath of relief.
Sakshi had had enough of surprises but Rudra had planned something else too. He took her behind the temple and showed her a large iron bell with beautiful carving on the outside. She looked at him in doubt. Rudra said, "It is believed that the more you touch this bell, the luckier you would be." Sakshi took little time to decide what had to be done. She first checked the inside of the bell for snakes and then gave it a bear hug. The surface was cool and she felt something had changed within her. She was calmer than before.
Rudra and Sakshi sat on a stone outside the temple. It offered a view of the whole town below. She could see the deep valley and the tiny people. Sakshi mumbled, "Thank you Rudra for this view." Rudra smiled at her fascination.
The chatterbox that she was, Sakshi began to talk about everything she knew, had experienced, wanted to have, likes, dislikes and what not. She laughed care freely at her own joke. She became serious at her own stories. She kept on talking. Rudra listened to each and every word of her like a patient listener. Sakshi was happy to have finally found a person who can accept her the way she was. She was experiencing something. A strange feeling of euphoric happiness. She was blushing. She didn't know why but she felt a hint of awkwardness in front of Rudra. She played with her hair and did everything that she found stupid. It was when the sun was about to set and Rudra mentioned that he needs to send her back to her school bus that she realised it. She had always feared it but here it was. She was in love with him.
Rudra was an excellent observer. He noticed the change in Sakshi's behaviour. He knew what it was. Even his behaviour had changed. The only difference was he regretted the fact that he had fanned the wrong bonfire.
He convinced Sakshi to go and left her with her class group. Sakshi couldn't help but smile incessantly. She saw Rudra's face and felt that he was also reciprocating her feelings. When her bus was about to leave, she saw him standing at a distance, staring at her. She waved at him. He smiled and turned. He bent his head down a bit and covered his face. She felt guilty for making him cry but she also felt happy that someone could shed tears for her. The bus left. Rudra didn't turn to have a parting glance at Sakshi. He kept standing in the same way. Seconds later, wisps of smoke rose from the other side as Rudra let out a long drag of his chillum.
Sakshi could not help smiling even though she was dead tired. She felt different. Something had changed. Something had changed for good. She felt she had discovered a new humane emotion. She kept replaying all the moments in her head. She also kept on thinking about the conversation she had had with Rudra. She knew something had changed deep within. Something that could never be undone.
She reached home in a merry state and dashed on her bed. She regretted not having taken any photographs but she felt she didn't need any. Rudra had become an irrevocable part of her existence. She knew she had unlocked a new level of happiness for herself. It was more of a euphoria to be precise. What she didn't know was it came at a price. It was a double-edged sword. It could pentrate through the dark layers of gloom but it could also slit your soul to bleed profusely. She had seen the bright side of the coin. The dark side was yet to reveal itself.
On the mountains, somewhere in the Himalayas, she notices a strange sight. There is a mountain which is different from all others. It's not the biggest, yet it is eye catching. She runs to the foothills and notices a lake. She bends to touch the water. The ice cold water makes her shiver but she is too thirsty. The lake is sapphire blue, reflecting the sky. She has never seen such pure water. She feels she is not alone. She knows the presence is not of an enemy. As she collects some of the water in her palm, she notices something strange. The lake isn't reflecting blue colour of the sky. The water is actually blue. She smells the water for any foul smell. It doesn't have any. As she is about to take a sip, someone calls her from close by.
Sakshi looks up to find two almond shaped eyes staring at her. She drops the water and stands up. For a moment, she forgets her hunger, her thirst, her existence and admires Rudra's beauty. Wearing nothing but a lionskin around his waste, she wonders how he is mocking the chilled weather. Sakshi wants to say something about health but prefers to keep shut. "Don't drink it", said Rudra.
"But why? I'm thirsty", Sakshi argued. "Because it's not what you think. You are craving for it. You feel it's good, pious and satisfying. It's not. It feels great in the beginning but it creates a deep niche in your body which constantly craves for more. It's not nectar. It's poison", Rudra said.
"Why should I believe you?" Sakshi asked. Rudra said nothing. He just removed his light blue scarf and the sight amazed her out of her wits. She didn't know what she saw was beautiful or scary but decided in that instant that she too wanted it. She bent into the pond and took a long sip. The liquid cooled her oesophagus but strange enough, she felt it going away from her stomach in her body. It flowed down till the end but then began to rise as though defying logic and gravity and finally stopped somewhere in the centre of her thoracic cavity. She felt good enough. She looked at Rudra and smiled. His peaceful face had turned into a frown and he didn't say a word. She walked towards him but he said, "I warned you. Now be ready to face the consequences."
Sakshi woke up horrified. She couldn't categorise her dream as a beautiful one or a nightmare. She wanted to rise but couldn't feel her right limb. Horror struck her again. She saw it was there but refused to comply to her wishes. She picked it up with her left hand but it sagged down like a lifeless tube. Suddenly, it had some sensation and she knew what had happened. She had been sleeping on her arm all night and it was nothing new. She finally breathed a sigh of relief.
She got dressed up and decided to check the photographs uploaded by her friends. She featured in none of them. She knew it was her mistake but she felt spending time with Rudra had been worth it. After looking at 120 photographs with more or less same caption, she decided to study something. She took out her tuition centre modules and began to solve them. She found it difficult to focus. She had a constant craving to meet Rudra and to make him confess what she felt for him.
She finally shut her book and kept it away. She decided to call her friend to have a chat. Scrolling down the contact list, she stopped at Sadiya, her friend from her previous school.
After one and a half hours of talks about Bollywood, songs, mischief, fashion and linkups, Sakshi told her to tell her something new. Sadiya said, "Our school is sending a souvenir to yours. The best boy a girl can dream of. He'll be in your school by the end of next week."
Sakshi didn't tell her that she had already found the best guy possible for herself. She was sure that the new boy won't be able to do anything to charm her. Finally, she hung up after promising to talk about the remaining things later.
In the evening, she went out for a walk. She chose to stroll around the park in front of her house. She had her headphones blaring some Arijit Singh song as she walked like the actress in the music video. Suddenly she noticed something on the ground. She bent to pick it up. It was Rudra's scarf. She recognised it immediately. She looked around and found no trace of him. She cut short her walk and rushed back home.
The scarf lay on her study table and she switched on her study lamp to check it. It was clean. Absolutely nothing was found. Her mother called her for dinner so she placed the scarf under a paper weight and left. Ten minutes later, she came back after her dinner of two chapattis and vegetable curry. She spent another half-an-hour to verify the scarf but in vain. Finally, she gave up and switched off the lights to retire to her bed. As the room turned dark completely, the scarf glowed. She looked at it, fascinated by Rudra's brilliance. It had something written for him.
I warned you. Now be ready to face the consequences,
You chose your destiny at my expenses.
Though it might be a small cost
Enjoy the poison because it came at the price of a relation's loss.
Sakshi was shocked. She didn't know how to react. Wasn't it a dream? And how did Rudra know about it? What was so disturbing about that lake and its water? She felt her hands and feet going cold. There was a strange pain in the centre of her thoracic cavity. The same place where she felt the liquid rise in the dream. Only now she knew what Rudra was talking about. It was the place where her heart was. It felt cold. It was never the same anymore.
She couldn't sleep that night. Headache marred her dreams. Eyes gave way to the emotions of her heart. She didn't even know why she was so attached to Rudra even after just three meetings. This wasn't how it should have been. Destiny had been playing with her. How could she be so stupid? Sakshi is too crazy for such deep emotions. It was the first night she didn't dream of anything. It was the scariest dream she had ever had. Pitch black.
She woke up sad and gloomy. Her pillowcase hid her tears. Her eyes had been red and puffed up. She lacked the cheerfulness she usually had. She didn't say anything stupid. Her days in school stretched. Her lips never did in smile. Her friends were surprised. They always wished she would be serious in some issues. Now that she was, they felt pathetic. They missed the old Sakshi.
One thing surprised even Sakshi. She never blamed Rudra for it. She had a feeling that whatever he did, it was for a reason. How could anyone reject her without any reason? She still remembered every single detail of her, everything he had said. She still loved the fact that she had met such a wonderful person. She loved their meeting. She loved everything about Rudra. She was ready to accept him even after everything that had happened.
Sakshi wasn't at all interested in moving on from her first crush. Everyday, she felt more and more devoted towards Rudra. Every time she saw someone smiling, she found a hint of Rudra. Every time she saw someone smoking, she was reminded of him. She decided to reserve that one spot in her heart for him forever. She had no photograph of him but she knew his features well. She tried drawing his face, but before she could complete it, it was smudged by her tears. Finally, she decided to draw just the eyes. The passionate eyes that had promised her a beautiful future. A future too beautiful to exist.
"Everything inside the class. Nothing outside the class," said Mr. Ashutosh in her classroom. Sakshi had been daydreaming about Rudra and was absent-mindedly staring outside when he called her name. She was startled.
"Sakshi. What is class?" asked Ashutosh. She remained clueless. These were the questions whose answers you know but fail to express. Mr. Ashutosh raised both his eyebrows, pouted his lips and waited for a minute. "Sir, class is object factory," Sakshi mumbled.
"Then what is object?" asked the computer teacher. "An instance of a class," she replied the answer she had learnt by heart. "Anyone else who can explain it to me. She answered correctly but lacks concept. Anyone?" Ashutosh scrutinised the class.
"May I come in, Sir?" asked a tall, brown boy. He had big, attractive eyes, long, sharp nose, light stubble and full lips. His voice was deep and husky. The class looked at the newcomer in awe. Everyone was starstruck except Sakshi who paid no heed.
"What is class? Come in only if you can answer," said Ashutosh. The boy replied, "Class is a factory of object. It is like a blueprint, based on which various objects can be made. It contains various attributes which is common to all the objects."
The class was already floored. His voice was melodious, yet humble. He didn't appear to be arrogant at all. Ashutosh asked, "Your name?"
"Raghav," he replied. Ashutosh gestured him to enter and said, "That's what I expected. Good." A girl who was avoided by everyone because of her nerd looks was approached by Raghav, who said, "Excuse me. May I sit beside you?" The class giggled as the girl broke into one of the cutest smiles. As Raghav placed his bag, his eyes met a girl's who appeared to be gloomy. Usually, gloom repels people but her sadness attracted him. He decided to wait for the right time to talk to her.
Sakshi had seen Raghav. She knew a lot about him by that time. He was an excellent academician, good orator, brilliant leader and excelled in sports too. He had won Gold medal in the interstate Archery competition. Even though he was full of qualities, he was very humble. Not much was known about his family life. Nor did she care. She avoided him whenever she could because of a reason which she feared others might find stupid. She knew Raghav was someone whom you could instantly fall in love with. He was flawless. A disciplinarian in true sense. She knew that every girl in her class had a crush on him but he kept staring at her in a way in which no one could doubt his intention. She also knew that I-need-you gaze. She felt that if she would get along with him, she would infiltrate her feelings for Rudra which appeared to be a sin for her.
Raghav was always surrounded by people. Some wanted to know about him, some wanted to know him, some wanted to just be next to him. During recess, girls flirted with him but he declined in the most polite ways. One day a girl told him, "Raghav, you are quite popular and you know it. Even though there are so many of us waiting for you, why don't you consider us? What's so special in her? She's so arrogant. She never talks to you and you always look at her while talking to us. What's the matter?"
For the first time, Raghav felt his debating skills abandoning him when he needed them the most. He replied after thinking for some time. "It's not that I don't like you all. I do. You all are my friend. As for her, I'm intrigued by her. I think I'll talk to her soon. It's not something to worry about. You all are special. I'm yet to know her, so I'm curious. That's it." The girl gave up as she knew Raghav had chosen a path of thorns for himself even when he was offered a bed of flowers. It's the way your heart works. Like a moth, it makes you fly around the fire that will engulf you.
The class was excited about the poolside party that was planned for the next weekend. It had been organised after months long preparation by the class monitor. Everyone felt maybe Sakshi would give it a miss but she chose to join. At that instant, Raghav decided that the weekend has to be the day. He had never been so excited.
He had several medals, trophies, certificates and accolades which proved his great speaking skills. Yet he failed to find the right words to confront Sakshi. He didn't want his first impression to ruin everything. She mattered a lot to him.
He reached the school an hour earlier and practiced his lines again and again. Beads of perspiration suggested his nervousness. He didn't know how he would avoid his stammering in front of her. He waited by the pool. Everyone came one by one but when she entered in her yellow top and blue palazzo, he forgot everything he had prepared. He couldn't wait anymore so he decided to talk to her.
"Hi. I'm Raghav,"he said, offering a handshake. Sakshi looked at him strangely and wondered why he was talking to her on this day. She said, "Sorry, but you won't get what you want here."
Raghav smiled and said, "I just want to be your friends. I definitely don't think it is something forbidden. I really want to be your friend. Please forgive me if you misunderstood any of my actions." Sakshi regretted immediately what she had said. She thought she overreacted. Maybe all the Rudra thing had taken toll on her and made her a rude, insensitive person. Had Raghav screamed at her, she wouldn't have felt what she felt now-guilt. She went to him and said, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have behaved the way I did. It was just that I had my mind filled up of strange things. Hi. I'm Sakshi. Will you be my friend?" Sakshi said.
Raghav smiled and shook her hands. It was the beginning of her friendship with someone who was a mystery to her. She knew she wasn't the prettiest girl or the smartest. Why would the most popular boy approach her? Just for friendship was the most stupid idea possible. She didn't believe in it completely yet she took the first step. Something about Raghav suggested he would never let her down.
Raghav was extremely happy that day. He had made friends with the girl whom he had wished to talk to for so many days. He had made the day memorable for everyone by displaying his swimming and diving skills but his moment of the day had been when Sakshi talked to him. He saw a struggle in her eyes. It was as though she was trying to avoid the truth as much as she could. She resisted his advances but he knew he would win over her.
Sakshi acknowledged her new friend with greeting everyday. They talked about some random topics but Sakshi always went away abruptly whenever she felt that he was getting closer. Sakshi was always cautious that she didn't give him any wrong signals as she didn't want to share the space in her heart that was reserved for Rudra. Sometimes people behave in a stupid way. They won't accept happiness as they feel moving on is a sin. Instead of being with someone you love, you should be with someone who loves you. It ensures happiness, but emotions don't believe in such great ideas.
Sakshi dragged herself through days but nights were really difficult. She felt the haunting memories coming back to her. She never shared things with Raghav, even though sharing things with him helped her a lot. She feared he might take advantage of her vulnerability. But the ritual was to be broken one day.
It had been dark moonless night. Sakshi lay restless in her bed. She had the severe headache and it had become unbearable. She didn't know what to do. The reason was extremely personal. Suddenly, her phone vibrated. Raghav had texted her something. She checked and finally gave up her vow.
Raghav: Not asleep yet.
Sakshi: I'm hving severe headache. Feeling strange.
Raghav: All gud?
Raghav: Hv some warm milk. I'll send you a poetry. It might help.
Sakshi: I am allergic to milk!!!!!!
Raghav: Didn't know dat. Hope you aren't allergic to poem.
Sakshi: Send it. I'll try...
Raghav: Okay. It's called FROM VECTOR, TO THE LOVELY VICTIM. Here it goes....
I guess I'm ill
But neither medicine works nor any pill
There is no sickness
The only effect is unreasoned happiness
The symptoms are a bit strange
From happy to crazy, my personalities change
Everything around me reminds me of the vector
Who didn't sting me, but offered me nectar
Usually people drive the vector away
But if I'm allowed to have my way
I would have her by my side all my life
As a friend, as a partner and as my beloved wife
It isn't as easy as it seems
The victim is in euphoria and enjoys daydreams
The toughest thing to do
Is to confess to the vector, "I LOVE YOU"
None of the dreams have any reason
The heart hides feelings but eyes give way to treason
The victim misses the presence in her absence
He keeps floating in the effects of the disease and its sweet essence
The victim doesn't wish the disease to go
He can't tolerate the horror of the days he felt low
Though the vector made sure the disease is inevitable
The victim can't help but get smitten by the irresistible
The wait seems to have been for thousand years
The incessant smiles have overwritten the stain of tears
I perceive they would be together forever
'Cause they promised never to leave and
NEVER IS A PROMISE MEANT FOREVER....
Sakshi: Wow! That's some serious stuff. You been in luv?
Sakshi: I need to tell you something.
Sakshi: I met this boy named Rudra. And he was very different from everyone else. I really loved him a lot. But he didn't meet me ever after the day I realised. He really made me feel special. I don't regret him but I miss him a lot. Thanks to your poem, I miss him a lot more now. My head is bursting out of pain. I can't sleep. :'(
What Raghav went through after reading it is actually beyond words. It was like a rusted knife piercing through his heart. Neither the heart ended, nor the knife. He composed himself and replied.
Raghav: Pls don't cry. Whatever happens, happens for good. Maybe you'll get someone better. I know it feels really stupid. The prophecy seems overrated but believe me, you deserve someone better. We'll get someone.
Sakshi: I'm not despo. I just can't stop missing him.
Raghav: Sorry, I didn't mean that. Pls stop thinking about things and shut your eyes. Feel the cool air touching your face. It helps.
Sakshi: Okay. I'll try. Thanx for listening me out. Gd nite.
Sakshi put her phone down. She shut her eyes and focused on her breathing. As the cool air touched her face, a drop of tear trickled down from the corner of her eyes to her ears. She felt peaceful, at least for that moment. Few miles apart, Raghav was in dire straits. He knew Rudra. He also knew why he didn't meet her again. What he didn't know was how to console himself. He had always helped others in this case. Now, when he was on the receiving end, he felt pathetic. He decided not to move towards her. Being a disciplinarian, he believed that if you can't win over a girl's heart, it is of no use to conquer her body. The girl needn't speak about her feelings. Her silence speaks a lot. That night, the pillowcase hid only two teardrops that trickled out of Sakshi's eyes. She had no idea of the moist mobile phone screen and eyes on the other side. Fate indeed seemed to be having fun playing with these pieces on the chessboard of the world. But it wasn't over yet. Some deeds were yet to be revealed. Some secrets yet to be uncovered. Some mysteries yet to be solved.
To be continued...