“Call the ambulance, now” I heard the scrambled screams around. The next few scenes were a blur, they all happened at once. I helped lift and place her body on a stretcher, all the while urging the wailing ambulance sirens to be louder, so that people cleared our way on the busy streets. She was sinking, I held her hands tight as she gasped and sucked the air flowing through the mask. “Hurry up! I can’t lose her,” my heartbeats shot up just as we pulled up in front of the hospital.
“Move aside! Move aside!” I raced alongside the speeding stretcher to the operating room. I would have collided onto the doors had I not seen my brother right on time. “Jeev, stop..stop right there, no one is allowed to go inside,” he held my arms tight, as I struggled. “Let me go, she needs me,” I resisted. “No, she doesn’t! She doesn’t love you anymore and you have to accept it,” he pushed me back.
The cold cement wall hit me and I leaned against it. I was still breathing in short gasps and needed some time to process and set things in a chronological order.
The first meeting
I had met giggly, bubbly, cheerful Riya for the first time when she had turned 16. “I want to serve the country and the world at the same time. I want to make the best of my life,” I fell in love with her at that adolescent age. Already popular in her school, she was the envy of the girls and a darling of the boys around. An avid reader, she loved autobiographies, she was the backstroke queen in the pool and had just picked up the guitar.
I got to be around her for most of the time and soon the inevitable happened. She fell in love with me!
“I love you” she said the day we met under a beautiful rainbow on an open field.
“You are the best thing to happen to me,” we shared a coffee the day she got admission to the college of her choice.
“I will never leave your side,” I promised as she entered the college hostel with her baggage.
“Hi, I am Riya, pleased to meet you,” I could only smile as she effortlessly made more friends. We all were part of a huge circle. Like minded people, like minded thoughts!
She attracted goodwill, happiness and people around – Riya was a magnet!
Speaking of magnet, everything gets attracted to it. With the good comes the bad, with the bad comes the good.
“Hey Jeev, fancy running into you here! Wassup brother?” I heard the grating voice of Kaal, my twin. Conjoined at birth, we were separated soon after. He was night, I was day, he lived in the moment, while I was more committed.
“What brings you here Kaal? Don’t you have any work at the old age home?,” his arrival always spelt trouble and doom. “I was bored with the oldies, kids are more fun and beautiful,” I followed his gaze toward Riya, who stood among her friends. “Wow! What a gorgeous sight,” he whistled a tune and straightened his jacket. “Hey don’t you dare cast an eye there. She is mine,” I said that a tad too quickly. “Wo ho ho ho…Yours? I never knew you owned people. Can you? Nothing’s yours alone. What’s yours is mine too, Twins thumb rule,” he pressed my nose with his index finger.
“Hey guys, how are you all doing? I am Kaal, Jeev’s twin brother,” he self-introduced and very soon mingled with all of them. “So next weekend, lets meet at the farmhouse!” he signed off before winking at me.
“Don’t go to the party Riya, Kaal’s upto no good,” I tried telling her when we were alone. “Why? What’s wrong. Its just a party and besides all are going to be there,” she dismissed my fears as she tried out various outfits for the party. “Don’t you have exams next week? What ever happened to your dreams to become a doctor?” I punched a pillow hard. “You think this one party will make such a big difference. I have been leading a disciplined life for far too long. Come on Jeev, just chill. You need to relax.” Kaal had definitely cast his net on her.
I could only watch from the gates of the farmhouse as Riya whooped in joy with her friends. “Come inside with us please. You will enjoy.” She had spent many hours trying to convince me. I felt slighted and preferred to express it through my silence. “Sulky baby,” Kaal kissed my cheek forcibly. “Don’t worry, I am just interested in her as friends,” he had shrugged his shoulders. I left the party place unwillingly, yet wary of the future…
“Are you still thinking about the party?” Kaal interrupted my thoughts. “That’s where it all started, didn’t it?” I brushed off his hand from my shoulder. “Yes, I did flirt with her, but you have got to admit she fell for my charms too,” yes, he looked beautiful. “You led her into that, and not just her, but there were others too,” I rubbed the tears in my eyes.
“You lead them all,” is what I keep on getting accused of. Hello readers! I am Kaal, the happening twin of Jeevan or Jeev as they all call him. You must have guessed by now that I am not that popular with him. He always feels that I take away things that he loves or the people who love him more. Well, he is no saint either.
Jeev is a mixed ball, you know. Part sedate, part passionate. At times he is very excited and rushes into things, the next moment he will fizzle out and slip into that preachy mode. Can’t predict anything with the guy.
I, on the other hand am quite one note if you really know me. Either I am there or not. I don’t like to give false hopes, I am quite clear in my heart. Between me and Jeev, it’s like a cat and mouse game. I wait for all of them to get tired of Jeev, sometimes it takes ages. But it does happen one day! That day is my day!
Meeting Riya was so special. I think I got attracted to pretty much the same things. Her sparkling eyes, her youthfulness, her open-hearted laughter and the fact that she loved Jeev! Tough luck brother….
The party changed things between us. She felt attracted towards me and started spending time with me. We got to know each other a bit more deeply. Late nights, clubs, dancing, drinking, smoking – I introduced Riya to the other side. Initially, she did confuse me with Jeev a lot, after all we look similar.
She succumbed to my charms, always reaching the pinnacle of pleasure. “Jeev, is that you? I love you” she would often confuse me with Jeev. We looked similar, after all we are brothers from the same mother!
The Hurt and Breakup
“Kaal, what you are doing is totally unfair. Stop messing around with Riya,” I held his collars tight. “What is she? A kindergarten going girl? She is old enough to make her choices,” he was equally feisty. “But I love her!” I screamed. “And I also loved Sunaina,” he yelled louder. We both looked away.
“You knew how much I loved her. She was surely mine, but you took her away. You and your promises of a rosy life, your hopes, prayers, your benevolence. You snatched her!” he pushed me roughly, remembering the hurt. “And what did you do thereafter? You played with her feelings for a while and then dumped her,” I couldn’t meet his eyes.
“You broke her totally. Have you even bothered how does she look nowadays? Frail, confused, depressed, broken!” I could feel his love for her coming out in those painful words. “I have knocked on her door several times, she refuses to meet me,” he wiped his tears. “You know, how I wish to have her in my arms, I would kiss her once and make things all right, but No! All because of you. She is wasting her youth, pining for you while you have already moved on from her to Riya!” he showed me the mirror. I am not any saint, either.
“Noooooooooooo… I…This is not possible, I can’t fail. I just can’t,” I was there when Riya finally got to know the reality. “I have been telling you all this while. Check your grades Riya, check yourself, what have you become?” I shook her. “Don’t take me away, Maa..Papa..please come with me,” she begged and pleaded for another chance. Riya had failed in her exams and now she was hooked onto drugs. A drunken revelry was found out by the authorities.
“Jeev, jeev..please stay with me. I promise, I will be good again,” she clasped my hands, her tears fell through my broken heart. I walked out soon, leaving her screams behind. I was disappointed, greatly. “Why did you do this Riya? I had dreams for you, for us. We could have been together, laughing, cheering, reveling in your success. If only you could have been more patient with me. You never saw my other side,” I mourned her absence by giving her some space.
“Jeev…no one is talking to me. Please talk to me, please hold my hand. I want another chance. Pleaseee,” she pleaded in all our meetings. I wanted to give her another chance, but I wanted her to respect me, love me like before. “Our relation will work only if you prove your love to me,” I looked into her eyes deeply. “Ho..How do I prove that?” she had asked meekly.
The Day of Judgement
A series of high-pitched wails brought me back to the present. I shuddered and glanced at Kaal, who smiled back at me. “It’s not Riya, its that old man,” he pointed at a group of people crying over a lifeless body. A wave of relief surged through me, leaving an after taste of guilt and helplessness.
“The doctors have managed to put her on ventilator,” Kaal and I walked to the small glass window to see her just breathing. “Why did you not stop her?” my rage flooded back and I gritted my teeth. “Because I love her, and not just shallowly like you,” he scoffed at me. “My love is more deep and definite,” he surmised.
“Riyaa, I love you..” Kaal touched his lips to feel her presence. That kiss they shared held promise of forever. “Hold my hand, Riya. Let’s go away from here,” he had grabbed her hand tight. “I…I…have proven my love to Jeev. I love him, please tell him to give me another chance,” Riya muttered the last few words in a whisper as she collapsed bleeding.
“I dare you to kiss Kaal! Prove your love, thus!” I had thrown a challenge, that I hoped she wouldn’t accept. I had better expectations out of her. But, she disappointed, yet again. She chose Kaal over me and shamelessly indulged in a daylight debauchery.
“She hates me, I know,” I whispered as I re-read the note she had left behind. “She doesn’t love me, either,” Kaal smirked. “What? What do you mean?” I was baffled at this admission. “Yep, brother. Another one, same old story. First, they fall in love with you, you show them your highs, you never prepare them for the lows. Some are feisty enough; they get up and move on after you dump them. Some like Riya are confused and will do anything to prove their love for you. Including, kissing your evil twin brother,” he laughed as sarcasm dripped in between us.
“She loves you brother; I saw it in her eyes. They showed a fear, guilt, a longing for you. Give her that second chance, dude,” I couldn’t believe what I just heard. “Riya will be under observation for the next 72 hours. Please pray, she is critical,” the doctors announced to all of us outside. “Oh God! Please please save my child, Riya my darling please come back to us, Pleaseeee,” her parents wailed loudly.
“I…I need some time to think,” I walked out soon while Kaal stayed back, right there next to her.
Epilogue, Some Years later
I was waiting at our spot, Riya was running late, as usual. “Hey, I will be there in just 15 more minutes,” she made the same excuse as she made an hour earlier. Dr Riya has found a new love – her service to patients. “You must wait for me, I know you will,” she had kissed me on my cheek just this morning.
Any ways, I checked on the decorations, the banners, everything was perfect.
“Jaaanuuu” I heard her happy voice and turned to see a sight that drained the blood away from my face. This can’t be true! She walking towards me hand in hand with Kaal!
“Riyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” I screamed as a car swerved just next to her and crashed onto a tree. I held her on time and chanted her name, slapping her cheeks, trying to make her open her eyes.
“Relax brother..she is just unconscious. It’s not her time yet,” Kaal slapped on my shoulder and pointed me to the dead body of the driver of the car. “Got to go buddy, meet you later,” he walked over to complete the formalities of the accident and claim the body of the victim.
“Riyaa..Riyaaa..open your eyes,” my heart pumped overtime, and stopped the moment she fluttered her eyes open. “I…I..Where am I?” she was confused and scared. “Its..its allright, its completely allright,” I hugged her tight.
Later that night, I looked on as she slept in contentment, her arms around her husband and child. The house was quiet and dark and I made my steps downstairs to take some rest. I sat wearily on a chair, and sighed, relieved at the turn of the events today.
This was Riya’s third chance, I can say. Though I cannot take credit for it this time. It was her destiny. No one realizes, but every roll of dice is prewritten, decided. We call it destiny. Who was I to change that? It was true I gave her the second chance, but I must give enough credit to her. She grabbed me with both hands and fulfilled her dreams, expectations and rewrote her entire life, just for me. That’s when I fell in love with her, all over again. And I will love her till eternity.
“Some coffee, bro?” I was startled out of my thoughts, sensing his presence, yet again. “Kaal! What are you doing here? You have promised to stay away from her,” I shoved him to the main door. “Hey, I was just visiting the neighborhood, I haven’t forgotten my promise. I love her too and I shall wait,” he smiled softly. “But nothing can stop me from seeing her from afar. Afterall she is a doctor. And the hospital is my main business area. You can’t blame me for bumping into her now and then,” he laughed and stepped out.
“And yes, once she comes to me, I am very possessive. I don’t always give second chances. My love is like that. Deep, definite and true. Take care buddy, love her for all the time you want. After that, Main hoon Naa!” Kaal disappeared from my sight and I walked out to be with my other loved ones.
Life goes on, 24X7!
Jeev (Jeevan): Life in Hindi
Kaal: Death in Hindi
Main hoon naa: I will take care
I penned this down as a commentary between life and death. Whenever we are at crossroads, between life and death, what would they talk about? Its just a juvenile attempt at that. I would request you all to read it again after substituting Life and Death to see if it makes sense and do the nuances come across.
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