And, There was a Distance…

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Everyone has a story inside him. The hatred chapters are nothing but the lessons of our life. Someone wrote it in his diary, someone in his story. I prefer the second option. I also believe, there should be a motivator behind you, who helps you directly or indirectly to tell your story.

The Inspiration behind the story is Akansha. I owe her a ton.

Our Story

It was still dawn when I stepped out of the cab and walked towards the entry gate of the Delhi airport. The early morning February air was pleasantly cold. I was travelling to Bengaluru to attend a friend’s wedding. It had been four years since we graduated from the same college. This wedding was also going to be a reunion of our batchmates. But what I didn’t know was that the reunion would begin much ahead of time; right in the queue in front of the airline counter. I was almost sure it was her. Same height! Same long hair! Same complexion! Curiosity had my eyes glued to her. And, then, about 60-odd seconds later, when she turned, she proved me right. My ex-girlfriend stood two places ahead of me in that queue. We had never met after the college farewell. It was an awkward moment when she noticed me struggling with her untied hair and two air duffel bags in both of her hands. I was still gazing at her in amazement. She hadn’t changed a bit. Her eyes, her dimples were exactly same as the girl I left four years ago.

“No one has changed, right?” Someone inside asked me. I feared to answer it.

I was at a distance of 40 meters from her heart, sarcastically true but was false in every aspect of our life. Yet, old memories were great memories. No complaints, no demands. I followed the instruction. “Don’t regret your old days. Only regret the mistakes you have done. Converting them into lessons will delete the rest too.”

“Hey, hello! Wassup?’ She waved her hands in front of my face. ‘Remember? ‘‘Yes’-I smiled. ‘Den, why are you standing like a statue? Come with me. I need your help.’ She did not hesitate to show her two gigantic bags. I had no option to ignore it. Despite some sort of unwillingness, I went and took the most weighted of her bag in my hand. Observing it, she gave me a warm smile. Pulling her trolleys over the ground, she said ‘Rest, we will discuss on the plane’. ‘Okay’, I replied without expressions. She gave me a cold sweat look. The SD card inserted inside reminded me, “I too had a love story”.

Swapping seats with the person adjacent to me, Kanika asked me “So, what are you doing now?”

“Senior program manager at TCS. Guess you got your answer”, I replied curtly.

“Great! Reflecting on you.” She pinched me, like our previous days.

“Listen, you know I became an IT professional by compulsion, not by my choice. You knew it. Now stop pinching me”.

“Okay”. She responded calmly. Ignoring my disgusted face, she started playing with her favorite android game, Candy Crush. A few minutes later, I broke the wall of itching silence.

“Did you mind?” I asked her. And, we carried on. Following a long interval, we laughed, babbled with each other. Her words compelled me to forget the fact, we had a separation of four tiresome years.

During the chit-chat, I came to know Kanika too was invited there. Hearing that, I couldn’t say, I felt good or not. Instead, something hit the chest heavily, I felt. Would I lose her again? What if it took place? If I lost her again, what would happen then? I turned my face towards the window. Ages after, she touched my fingers. Keeping the coffee, on my table, sensed once more while the plane did take off. Heading out of the airport, when we reached our destination calling an Ola Cab, the clock hands had almost reached 12:30 p.m.

Let me introduce you to our old friend, Konark. Konark – we knew from eight years. Before Akansha, Konark happened to my best friend in the coaching. Things began to change when I met his girlfriend, Akansha. She was too adorable and the most pleasing girl I could have ever met. Most importantly, she had a brain with a kind heart. I did share everything with her. Reversibly, she did too. Our friendship had such a strong bonding that we could read ourselves in our silence. She knew all the things about me and Kanika. Fetching details from Kanika’s past, she used to give me a lot of solutions to impress her.

Nothing worked out at last. Kanika was very much possessive about her ex-boyfriend, Sourav. I hated it. One day, she said to me, “I don’t need you.” Hence, the one-sided relationship broke up. Thereafter, I didn’t fall for anyone. Akansha told me,” Give her some time.” I did, but nothing changed for me.

And, Konark knew Kanika since their schooling days. They were good friends like us, me and Akansha. However, he was the bridegroom for the ceremony. But interestingly, the bride was changed. Once I asked Konark “Why did you do this?” Shaking his head, Konark replied. “I didn’t. She broke up.” From that day onwards, the times I asked Akansha regarding the topic, she said, “You can’t find all the answers on WhatsApp and Skype, Viaan. If I think any day, I will make you understand. I will explain the things in front of you.” Henceforth, we never met. Acting in a busy metropolitan life, we didn’t even realize that we had erased the necessary time for ourselves. While taking the luggage off the cab, I was presenting a P.P.T to myself. The tagline of that one? “Slideshow of memories”.

That night, sitting beside the poolside with a beer bottle, Konark kicked on my back. When I turned, he smiled and said, “Testing, drunk or not.” I smirked at him and said, “Come. Sit here.” “No bro. I have some work now. Actually, I came here to give you a news. Akansha has arrived.” He informed and left. I couldn’t see his face in the darkness but could hear his dying voice in an alternative.

Again, I was alone for some time till Akansha tweaked my ear. Tieying her hair neatly, and holding a coffee mug in her hand, she managed to sit beside me without my invitation. Sipping the beer, I looked at the water and said, “I had never expected to see this day.”

Akansha gathered some time before she replied, “Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes, it happens for a good.”

I got her indication and said, “Good or bad remains in our hand.”

Akansha agreed. She said, “Yes. The good has happened through my hands.”

Listening to this, I kept the beer aside. Asked, “But why?”

“For our benefit.” Akansha tried to avoid the topic.

“And, I am trying to know your benefit,” I told her.

“Leave nah.” Akansha tried to escape. I pulled her back. Akansha started.

“When two people come too close to each other Viaan, somehow, somewhere, a distance between them starts to increase. Want to know how? Listen to it, attentively. We were good friends at first. At least from my side. But you know where friendship and love differ? Friendship turns up in between two disparate souls where one questions, another reply. Their categories remain same, type differs. Henceforth, inside the subconscious mind, it wins trust and expands. Love is completely different from it. Here, types become same, category differs. That’s why returning from love to friendship becomes harder. Say, for example, our case. People like us, are nothing but the victims of situations. As time goes on, our views become correlative. But what I said before, the separation elevates while both of them come to know each other. The reason behind it is, when they understand their category has changed, they can’t accept it. They get cracked. But they can’t even understand, every human being has a unique feature. Everyone is different from others. But nothing can be done then. So, it requires a detachment afterward. It’s like Ganglia. If you have to save the other organs, you are bound to cut the affected portion.”

I was in the preliminary stage of the hangover. I couldn’t make out all of Akansha’s words. Some entered; maximum of them fled away. Anyhow, I could understand the summary. Their desire windows had closed. Still said, “Konark still misses you.”

Staring at me, Akansha replied calmly. ”Konark is sticking to his memories. However, he couldn’t refuse the truth. This implies, he can’t neglect his reality, yet he is fighting with himself wearing an old spectacle. This is wrong. Old memories are like junk files. It wastes your storage. It’s better to clean it. Otherwise, it would create an issue to their ‘Happily Married Life’.”

Alcohols were running through my veins. Her philosophical words were too strenuous to catch. I was comparing Akansha’s words with my experience. When she stopped, I threw the empty bottle facing the black water. And shouted, “There was friendship, love, distance… Everything. Though it happened, why?”

Akansha maintained her clam and replied, “Only, the moments needed to interpret each other, were not present there. Therefore, the time you spend has separated yourself from her. Nothing else.”

I was trying to contradict her. She stopped me, “Shh…”

Her phone was vibrating. Receiving her phone, she stood up and said: “Talk to you, later.”

Before leaving the place, I asked her “Anyone special?”

“Yeah. But it’s a secret.” She winked and left. I was in a state of shock.

“Can it happen?” I asked myself.

“Things had happened in front of you.” The inner voice replied.

After dinner, I decided to meet Kanika before sleep. Asking about her room, one of our common friends gave me the direction. The room door was slightly open. I pushed the door a bit, politely asked: “May I come in?”

Lighting a night lamp, Kanika was lying on the bed with her mobile. “Hmm…” She answered without removing her mobile. Sitting on the bed, I observed her face. Her strikingly beautiful eyes were looking at the mobile screen. I felt quite jealous noting the mobile. If the eyes looked at me, I imagined. I kept quiet. After a while, I broke the silence. Asked her, “Will you sleep here? Alone?”

“Hm. Hope so. Konark’s sister has just confirmed that they will be awake all the night.” I became silent.

Immediately, I could sense a fence ahead of me. Too quickly, it disappeared. An unrevealed pain swirled my heart. I closed my eyes. A white horse was running there in the desert. An empress wearing a black gown grabbed its chain, kissed it, and released the same. It was Kanika. I opened the eyes. Wiped the sweat from my forehead with the handkerchief. Getting accustomed, when I was looking here and there, Kanika asked me “What happened?”

“Nothing,” I replied, struggling with emotions.

“Oh,” She concentrated on her mobile.

A few minutes later, I stood up and said, “Good night.”

“Okay”. She replied.

I left the room.

Coming out of the room, I noticed Akansha. She was in hurry. I called her back. She turned and said, “Where did you go?”

“Kanika’s room”. I told.

“What happened?” She asked eagerly.

I narrated her briefly.

Listening to the summary, Akansha said “Remember one thing. Only one day has left. You don’t know, she will stay more or not. You have already suffered a lot. Don’t miss a single chance. Try to believe yourself. If you loved her, you can prove it too.” She disappeared.

Thinking about her words, I returned and knocked at Kanika’s door. “Sleeping?” I asked.

“Not yet.” She replied from her room.

Entering the room, I gathered courage. Questioned her, “Do you have a boyfriend?”

“What kind of a question is this?” She replied in disgust, kept her mobile aside. I remembered the day she rejected me. Seven years before, somewhat with similar expressions. ‘Why am I repeating my earlier mistake?’ Didn’t get a clue.

She raised her question, keeping eyes on me, “No, why?”

That was Kanika. Her electrifying eyes had always ruled me.

Collecting my breath, I said, “I have something to tell you.”

“What?” She didn’t change her focus.

I didn’t know, where I got the nerves to tell her “I love you, Kanika.”

“Why?” She altered her stance. Sharper than her previous version.

I became confused. How could I show her my love? How could I express the beauty of her eyes? How could I say to her, “Without you, I am incomplete.”

Discovering my silence, Kanika said to me, “Go to bed. Before going, switch off the lights please.”

Switching off the lights, I came back.

Next day morning, I saw Kanika at the breakfast table. I called her, “Kanika….”

Kanika stopped me, “Got your answer?”

“Yes”, I answered.

“Come in my room.” Taking her plate, she came to her room.

As I entered, she closed the door. Putting the plate on the table, she said: “What do you want to say?”

I looked into Kanika’s eyes. It had no difference, the eyes I met before. I got a nervous breakdown. The thought of failure enfolded me. But one corner of my heart was still pounding. He encouraged me, “What goes if you try again?”

I started.

“Kanika, I couldn’t express why I love you. Rather, I could say why I am afraid of you. It occurs because I can’t hide in front of you. I have hidden for four years. I can figure out my mistakes. I should give you some time. Sourav left you alone. But I did the same. Even more, without realizing your situation. It was not possible, to begin with, a new relationship, I understood. You had a reason to reject me. I got it. You tried to find a shelter inside which no one could hurt you. So, when you lost your “friend” Viaan, you didn’t stop him. I know, I did wrong with you. But can you do me a favor? Can you accept our friendship one again? Please….”

When I completed my words, I lost my sensations. I saw that Kanika was weeping wordlessly. I got my senses back when she touched my hand and said, “You have taken eight years to perceive this, Idiot!! Are you a moron or what?”

I smiled. Tried to laugh out loud. But couldn’t. Kanika hugged me deeply. I broke into tears.

Konark’s wedding was the incredible one. Finally, Konark too was happy with his newly married wife. When I asked Akansha about it, Akansha made a white smiling face and replied: “You are forgetting that there existed good friendship before our relationship.”

“What about you?” I poked her through my elbow.

“Waited for the ending, re. Now I can compose myself peacefully.” She sighed.

“A good friend is better than therapy,” I murmured.

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Srijit Das

Srijit sketches the picture of the society with his pen. His intense words compel the readers to rethink about his writings. Passing out from the Scottish Church Collegiate School, he is studying Engineering from Techno India, Salt Lake. He achieved the first position in the Presidency University for a Short Story Writing Competition and worked for the Times of India as well. Currently, he is working with IIT Kharagpur. According to him, Writing is a platform where he can just simply wear a mask, take a pen, and put it into his characters the mirrors of our everyday lives.

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