Tuesday, September 25, 2012


He had lost everything. Everything that ever mattered to him. His purpose in life had suddenly vanished. He stood beneath the foggy dark skies as the rain camouflaged his tears. He looked down upon her cold motionless body waiting for her to wake up from her ceaseless sleep. He looked at the wrecked red sedan his wife was driving that day but it didn't matter. She stayed still. Motionless. Stable. Beautiful. It was a ghastly accident. We will have the surveillance footage of every vehicle running by on the Western Express Highway. Some drunken car drive smashed her car and ran away. I’m really sorry for your loss, Mr. Arun. He was told. She was dead and it wasn’t her fault. A lump in his throat threatened to suffocate him. Their plan had been quite simple: to be together for the rest of their lives. But it had happened. That day destiny had covetously changed its mind. Thoughts of their memories together clouded his mind leaving out a tiny little corner in his brain. He thought of that man who had snatched away the happiness of his life. A man he had never met and who he would probably never meet. But a man who had changed his life forever. A man he would hate for the rest of his life. Sometimes life doesn't go as planned, son. But you’ve got to deal with it and move on. I did too. His neighbor, Col. Nayar, consoled him.

Col. Nayar was a pleasant old man. He was a widower and lived alone. He came back to his apartment and thought about Arun. Poor kid. A fleeting thought. He had a family once. A small happy family. A beautiful wife and loving son. All that he could have ever asked for. But then, as they say, the gods of heaven grew jealous. First he lost his wife to cancer and then his son ran away to avoid joining the army and never came back. Not that he had forced his son to join the armed forces. I don’t think I’m good enough, dad. I’m sorry. His son had written in the letter. He rose up from his chair and made tea for himself. There was no end to his days and nights. And none of the rooms in the apartment gave him any solace; just the unwelcoming silence as he stared at every piece of furniture his wife or his son had ever touched. Just as he took his first sip, the doorbell rang. He got up and took an urgent walk to see who it was. It was Rehaan, the pension guy. Col. Nayar greeted him with a familiar smile. It was Rehaan’s monthly job to deliver the pension to Col. Nayar. They rarely talked but exchanged hollow greetings everytime they met. Rehaan was one of the few contacts that Col. Nayar had with the outside world. He took the small package, signed the record sheet and closed the door. A long day ahead. Another fleeting thought.

Everyone loved Rehaan. He looked average with a medium five foot eight frame with an unkempt mop of hair on his head and a small patch of beard on his chin. He used to live near the shopping complex area with his best friend, Charlie, whom he had known since they were kids. Rehaan had worked for the GNB bank for over two years now. His boss was proud of him and had promised him a promotion within the next few months. But things were not right. As he entered his house, the familiar feeling of guilt started obliterating his conscience. The house was empty and Charlie was still not home. He knew he had been a terrible friend and a dreadful human being. And somehow it all was linked to the girl named Avni. He’d met her a few months back during Charlie’s birthday party. And even though he knew she was Charlie’s girlfriend, he was unwillingly attracted to her. Fate took a treacherous turn and they ended up falling for each other. The day came when they could not keep it a secret and so one day they confessed to Charlie. And that was the day Rehaan last saw his friend. All that he remembered was the huge fight and Charlie storming out in his car with a legitimate rage. Now that he was gone, Rehaan had nobody. Not even Avni. All he wanted to do was to apologize to his best friend about his brainless judgement. If only they could. Rehaan snapped back to reality. He was still alone. He walked to the balcony and saw a bunch of kids playing in the nearby playground. He thought more about the things he regretted doing in life. All the things. People he had lost. Relationships he had lost. And most importantly, a brother he had lost. Forever.

Charlie was mad. Incensed and Fuming. He felt cheated. Lying on his death-bed in the hospital, all the rights and wrongs he had committed flashed before his eyes. All the  times when he did some things he shouldn't have done. And the times when he refused to do the things he should've done. It had been quite a few months when he was informed that he had terminal stage lung cancer. Even the chemo-therapy did not work on him. He could see everything. They say that when you’re about to die, that is the only time when the memories buried deep in the untapped parts of your brain surface up. And that was happening. He remembered the time when he talked to his high school crush and felt embarrassed when something absurd came out of his mouth; the time when he became friends with Rehaan; the time when he swore in front of the teacher; the time he met and fell in love with Avni. Avni. He was absolutely crazy about her. And then he remembered some more. The time when Rehaan and Avni ditched him. He’d felt so feeble and weak. Ditched by his best friend and discarded by the love of his life, he felt heartbroken. Miserable and dejected. And that is when it all started. The drugs, the alcohol and the depression. He who makes a beast out of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man. He remembered the times when Rehaan and he used to swear to God that they would never let a girl come in the way of their friendship. But she did. And everything got wrecked. And then he thought about the accident. The night when he was utterly wasted and was still driving on the Western Express Highway. He could hazily see a red sedan coming on his way but he lost his control. He could count every breath as his car smashed the red sedan brutally. He woke up from the shock minutes later, got out of his car and dragged himself to the dead woman lying inside. His senses started to feel numb and the feeling of guilt swallowed him. He collected himself and ran back to his car and vanished into thin air far away from the scene.

-Harshil Bhardwaj, 2nd year