31st Dec. 2018
Almost mid-night and not a single vehicle was to be seen anywhere in the parking lot, except one. Saurav’s Maruti-Suzuki Swift. He started his car. It made a continuous high-pitch whining sound and then stopped!
“Last night of the year and while the whole word is out there partying, here I am, slogging my ass off for a thankless job that doesn’t even pay me enough to buy a new car,” he angrily murmured to himself while rubbing his eyes which were stinging with sleep deprivation and the stress of a long shift of eleven hours. He took out his cell phone and ordered a cab.
New Year’s Eve and all drivers were busy. Waiting for half an hour, when his eyelids were starting to droop involuntarily, a car honked and stopped by him.
“But the number doesn’t match with what Uber says. Then why is the driver waving at me?” he wondered.
The driver opened the door and yelled, “Abey Gendey, how have you been?”
“Nishant? In Chennai? At this hour? Am I hallucinating because of my no-sleep binge?” he whispered with bewilderment.
Nishant winked with his old impish smile.
An hour later, the two old buddies were down with some pegs of Old Monk. Chatting and laughing. Just like in the good old times.
“Bud, I know you still hold that grudge against me. Believe me dude, if I would have had the slightest hint that you loved Vidhi, I would have completely disappeared from the scene.”
“Let it go, Nishi. You were more deserving. Handsome, smart, with a lucrative offer from a tech giant in the Silicon Valley. I was jobless then, penniless now. I am so happy for you and Vidhi.”
“Then why have you been avoiding us all these years, dude?”
“No, Nishi. I have been thinking of you two, every day. But the way I behaved that day, when you were leaving for US…I have never been able to forgive myself. I could never gather the courage to face you…and her…you know…”
1st Jan, 2019
Saurav woke up with a terrible hangover. He wasn’t able to recall the details of the night before. However, every word of Nishant was echoing in his mind.
“How did I reach home? Where is Nishant?” rubbing his eyes, he noticed something written on his palm.
“Vidhi – +1-201-XXX-XXX”
After, two long hours of “should I” or “shouldn’t I”, he finally called her.
After a very awkward exchange of ‘hi-s’ and ‘how- have- you-been-s’, he mentioned how he met Nishant the last night and how they had a gala time. There was a weird silence of several seconds, followed by sobs. Puzzled and worried, he enquired.
Vidhi exclaimed, “Is this some kind of a joke, Saurav? Because it is not funny. Has no one told you that Nishant passed away last Monday, in a car accident….”
She continued speaking but not a single word registered with Saurav. He just stood there. Frozen.
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