“It’s cold today could we just take a walk along the city light roads before coming to my house?” Richa asked me.
“Well yeah it’s totally fine, I don’t want us to catch a cold,” I replied being affirmative
“So meet you at Captains Cafe then, don’t keep me waiting like the last time,” she warned.
“Don’t worry, not this time,” I smirked, as I cut the call.
It was 25th of December, I had stayed back in the hostel for industrial training in a company.
Well, Richa was my classmate I have known her for the last three years of engineering. She was a jolly good looking girl who wore black wayfer glasses, her hairs were straight, her nose a bit pointed, her voice a pleasant one and an average student like me in the class. My roll number was just after her so every practical, assignments, presentation etc, I was to do with her. Many a time we realized we had almost same views on a matter or any topic. She helped me a lot when I had the breakup with Shruti last year. I mean she was every time around me helping, supporting and everything possible. I did not want to go back to home this vacation so we ended up applying for industrial training in a company and got selected. To say in other words she was the closest to me in college with whom I could share everything. My friends used to jokingly tease me with her, in fact, our whole class did.
I then locked the door before going to the college bus stop. The bus came minutes later after I reached the stop. As I ascended the bus I could see only a few faculties and some scholars sitting scattered on the bus. I took the last corner of the bus for sitting.
One hour later I reached the city and one by one passenger began to get off the bus. Then the conductor shouted, “Captains Cafe stop” for the passengers.
I got up from the seat and started to walk towards the door of the bus. I could see through the window Richa sitting on the bus stand and tapping the screen before putting the phone on her ears to call. By the time driver had hit the brakes and the bus came to a halt. I stepped down from the bus when Richa saw me and cut the call.
“Ah! 5 minutes late today I was calling you,” Richa said feeling good not having to wait much today.
“It’s the driver’s fault, not mine,” my shivering voice said as I could feel the outside low temperature after stepping out from the bus.
“Your excuses every time,” she responded and laughed.
“I guess you need a hot cup of coffee,” she noticed I was shivering.
“Yeah it should be perfect” I replied regretting not wearing the overcoat and preferring the leather jacket.
We walked through the footpaths as we discussed our report of ongoing industrial training. Today I could see her more happy than usual. She had put on her beanie cap, the white watch I gifted on her last birthday, a white Nike shoe, a bomber black jacket and white jeans. I bet she had a lot of fashion sense.
As we entered the CCD for coffee we saw more crowd than usual as it was Christmas night. We placed ourselves at an empty table in a corner and ordered two cappuccinos.
“So what will we shop for today’s dinner?” she asked excitedly
We had planned to make ourselves a dinner and spend the night in her home as her parents were out for a week.
“Well I guess we will take some Paneer, and some candles if u would like it to make a candle lit dinner” I laughed at my idea.
“Sound’s great and yeah I am dying to eat your Paneer, your roommate told me about your cooking skills you present at their birthday parties,” her eyes gleamed.
“Haha is it ?” I replied as I sipped a drink from my cup and feeling proud of my cooking skills.
Just then a memory flashed 2 years back when Shruti used to come over to my house and I used to make Paneer for her and she loved eating it. She used to say; “I hope you will continue making such dishes after our marriage too”, at which I used to laugh and reply, “Anything for you, my dear” and pull her nose.
“What are you smiling at?” Richa gave me perplexed look as she noticed me smiling like a fool for the last 30 seconds.
“Oh! Nothing just some memories” I replied getting back to my senses.
”Did you bring some of your grass?” she whispered to me with a cunning smile.
“Shh! Keep it down, not here” I warned her as the boy sitting next to the table might have understood what she said and turned to us.
“So if you are done with the cup lets go, we got some shopping to do,” I advised Richa.
We got up and she paid the bills. She never allowed me to pay the bills saying, “You are a hosteller you will face money problems soon, keep it I’m there for you”. Well, it’s not that I liked spending and eating on her money but I felt a little guilty for her spending so much money on me. She was the single child of her parents and her parents were a higher official in government thinking of that I comforted myself.
As we walked through the tank showcased on the middle of the city, we noticed decorations around, Santas walking around the cities, Christmas trees planted in front of the shops, shopping malls with 60-70% sale hoardings, people out for shopping and buying gifts. The city was fully on the swing for Christmas. We reached the city center and went for the milk product section where we bought half a kilo Paneer. We then went to a mall to get some .
Crossing the female section before reaching the grocery section Richa’s eye’s caught the attention of a trench coat which was put on sale. She dragged me into the ladies section for accompanying her. It was a blue collared trench coat with cotton blending and a solid design.
“Hold my purse before I try it on” she demanded.
Well go to shopping with girls and enter the clothes section they will always demand you to hold onto their purse. Mother, sister, ex-girlfriend, and now her. I guess it will continue with my wife too if I go shopping with her in near future.
“ok sure” I replied having no other option.
As the saleswoman helped her to get into that trenchcoat it fitted her perfectly. She was around 5’8’’ and her waist might be 24 I guessed. It was as if it was made perfectly for her.
“How do I look?” she asked looking herself in the mirror.
“Perfect beauty” I winked, my usual habit of complementing Shruti whenever we went shopping.
Oh, why am I thinking so much of her she is gone, it is past forget everything about her and move on my brains said. But deep inside my heart, I knew I had a soft corner room for her.
“Well, how much is it?” I asked her as she was telling the saleswoman to pack it for her.
“3500 rupees only,” she said as we walked towards the grocery section.
“It’s on me” the words came out of my mouth. I guess I wanted to seriously take out Shruti from my mind and everywhere and I found that gifting the trenchcoat to Richa would help me. Well I know I may sound foolish but I saw a way of overcoming it. My scholarships were in last month and my pockets were full so I did not hesitate a moment before saying those words.
“You need not do it my dear why waste your pocket money on me?” she said as she pulled my nose playfully.
“Well see seriously you are the only close one here and I spend a lot of time with you, you are always there for me and I just don’t know how to thank you so please accept my gift as a token of love from my side,” I said to her with a deep tone. I guess she might have understood what I was trying to say.
“Thank you so much my dear” saying this she hugged me.
After shopping, we went to the nearby Christmas fair where we took a ride on the Ferris wheel, swing boat, and the teacups. Needless to say, I was dragged into every ride with her because I am very afraid of them and ended up catching the bars tightly till the end of every ride as she laughed at me.
I wish Shruti was here to hold my hands like she does in every ride.
“I never knew you were such a nincompoop” Richa laughed saying as we came out of the fair.
“I am only afraid of the rides and nothing else,” I said feeling a bit insulted to her.
“Really? What about our department’s HOD? Last month I had to accompany you when you had to get a signature from him.” She teased me.
“Alright, it’s only rides and HOD ok and nothing else” I replied and started walking faster.
She continued laughing, “Ok baba now don’t be angry or else who will make me tasty Paneer” saying it she pulled my cheeks.
Shruti did the same sometimes pulling my cheeks, sometimes my nose when I was angry. Am I missing her? Should I call her? What might she be doing now? Is she thinking about me too?
Oh, wait is she still in my head? Why is she still in my head when a more beautiful girl is with me? Richa has got more fashion sense in her, her pointers are far better than Shruti etc so why still think of her?
I was annoyed and perplexed as I stopped by to buy a packet of cigarettes from a nearby retailer.
“So how many cigarettes did you finish up today?” Richa asked as we started walking again on the streets.
“Hardly four I guess” I replied as I counted on my fingers.
“Aj, see if you are still on to her and smoking to overcome it please stop your smoking. Think of your parents, they have high expectations on you, spending this much money on you for studying………” as she was saying, I stopped her in between.
“Ah! Stop it I know, I have to think of my parents, get placed in a good company, and bla blah blah” I was tired of listening to her same speeches every day.
Whatsoever she says she was like my second caretaker after my mom. In today’s world, you would feel very lucky if you got such a good friend like her who thinks about you from every perspective.
We both were now used to it, she telling me to stop smoking and me telling her to stop saying that. Talking and joking around we reached the block of her house. It was around 5 minutes walk away now to her house. Her block was silent, it was a government colony and most of the people went to their granny’s for the Christmas vacations. Only some of the street lights were glowing others were broken. We walked through the lane as we heard dogs barking at a distance.
“It’s extreme cold tonight,” she said as she rubbed her hands and blew hot air from her mouth in it.
“Yeah, it is,” I said as I held the shopping bags in my left hand and the right hand inside my jacket.
“I wish someone would hold my hand as we walk through and keep me warm,” she said looking at the cold sky.
“Haha then find a good boyfriend” I replied as I failed to notice that she was indicating me to hold her hands.
“Oh I think you can call Anshul to hold your hands he will keep you very warm” I teased her. Anshul was our class topper who always answered to every question asked by the professor and his hairs were always dipped in full of hair oil and were separated in half. Richa just hated him so I never missed a chance to tease him with her.
“Don’t say his name” she hit hard on my right shoulder with her hands, more depressed of me failing to notice her indications rather than me saying Anshul’s name.
“Ouch alright you got tough hands” I reacted as we reached the gate of her house.
She opened the door and I sat on the sofa and lit a cigarette.
“Careful with the ashes put it on the ash tray this is not your hostel” she knew of my cigarette smoking habits as I threw up ashes here and there. Last time I came to her home, I ended up throwing ashes on the carpet.
She went to her room for changing. As I smoked I switched to VH1 on the television. It’s been long since I watched TV. The chainsmoker – closer was on the playlist. I smoked as I slowly kept nodding to the song beat.
“Hey, shall we start? It’s already 9:30 pm and it’s getting late” she said from behind as she tied a bun on her head. She had changed into a crewneck sweater and shorts.
“Wait up almost finished smoking, want a puff?” I said jokingly.
She came up and sat by me “ok let me try it”
“Are you sure?” I questioned as I did not expect that.
“Come on show me how you inhale it” she insisted
“You just take it in your mouth and pull it before you inhale it and let it go” I demonstrated as I released the smoke from my mouth.
She then took the cigarette from my fingers and inhaled it, immediately she started coughing. I laughed,
“Haha want to try more? Try once more” I teased as I handed over her a water bottle which was on the tea table.
She handed me the cigarette before drinking water from the bottle. I could notice the pink lipstick mark on the white filter of the cigarette.
“Wait let me try once more” she insisted
She tried two three times before perfecting to release smoke without coughing.
“How do you even get addicted to this things?” she questioned.
“You will not understand it,” I laughed.
“Oh what about the joint you promised to bring today?” she added.
“Yeah, two joints” as I took them out from the inner pocket of the jacket.
She decided to try on some weed tonight before sleeping. She had heard a lot from me about the dreams you get after smoking one. So she finally decided to try it on today. We had been planning for this a long ago.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” I asked still perplexed whether I should do it with her alone in her room. It was not that I wanted to take a chance on her or something, it’s just that she insisted so much on it that I had to do it.
“Daar ke agge jeet hai” she repeated the lines of the mountain dew advertisement and smelled the joint.
I then got myself freshened up and we both spent the next hour preparing dinner.
“Hmm it tastes too good !” she exclaimed tasting the gravy with a spoon.
“Can’t wait to dig into it,” she added as she started taking out the plates from the drawers.
The next 10 minutes we spent on putting the table and the plates. Finally, we ended up lighting the candles.
“So it’s over let’s get on with the joint before digging here,” she was known for the fact that you get more hungry after smoking weed. So we decided to smoke on her terrace. We switched off the lights before leaving the dining room. The room was now only lit only with the tables from the dining table.
I lighted my flashlight on the phone as we ascended to her terrace.
I gave her one and lighted her joint before lighting mine. She coughed at the first two puffs before she started normalizing.
As we sat on her terrace we could see the far city lights and vehicles going in line. The sound of the traffic and horns were heard dimly.
“Life has become a race isn’t it?” her words broke the silence of the terrace.
“Yeah you get up every day, go to classes, make notes, mug up for exams, do your assignments and this goes on and on every semester” I replied with frustration in my life of engineering.
“Everywhere you go you are judged by your pointer’s. You apply for internships in IIT’s they ask a cutoff of 8 points. You want to sit for good companies they ask you about your pointers. Pointer pointer and pointer everywhere !! Uhh! I’m fed up now”
“Engineering ne hamari le li” I replied as I blew out a smoke ring from my mouth.
“Hey how did you do that?” she asked amazed
I smoked some more before releasing two smoke rings in one blow.
“Please teach me” she insisted.
“Okay so first take up some smoke, don’t inhale. Make your mouth and lips a bit rounder and just push it from inside like this” I taught her as if I was a pro vap king.
She tried but only laminar smoke came from her mouth. After trying for 4-5 times a thin unusual smoke ring came out before it unwinded up to the laminar flow.
“See see I almost made it” she shouted at her achievement. She tried doing that for 3-4 times before the light reached the tip of her filter.
“Oh it’s finished” she glommed.
“It’s all right you can try it with cigarettes after some time” I consoled her.
“I would never have enjoyed that much with Shruti as I am having now with you.” the words slipped from my mouth.
“You still remember her don’t you?” she asked looking into my eyes.
“Well I try a lot harder but still she keeps coming, I just don’t know why” I replied as I took out a cigarette to light one.
“Time heals everything” she consoled me tapping on my shoulder.
“I am now just going on with the flow?” I said frustrated as I inhaled a puff.
“Don’t worry I am always with you in both of your good and bad times” she consoled me once again putting her head on my shoulders and taking the cigarette off my fingers and smoking.
Adding, she said, “I tell you this never go with the flow. Fight for what you deserve. Life is tough, the world is hard. The world will push you to the corner and keep on torturing. It is you who have to get up and fight. Fight for what you believe and you want to live for.”
I looked her over my left shoulder she was still looking to me. I never expected her to say that kind of words.
“I think the weed hit you,” I said
“No I am in my sense, I am just bringing you to the real world of sense” she babbled. I knew she was hitting on weed. Her words and her voice said me everything.
“Come on now let’s go for dinner now it’s getting cold here” I pleaded her.
“Ok I’m hungry now” she laughed
We got up and started to descend down the stairs. I could notice her going from left to right while walking. I caught her by her waist before she could walk any further. I just did not want any mishap to happen when her parents were away. Step by step we finally reached the ground floor before opening the door.
The candles were still lit and burned to half. Only the candles were the source of light in the room. I closed back the door before I took her to the sofa.
“Shall we watch TV a bit before eating? It’s Saturday today my favorite show will be broadcasting soon” she pleaded
“But I thought you were hungry” I answered
“Don’t worry I will manage” she replied with a very wide smile.
I knew she was high now by looking at her smile.
She got up and switched the remote, she pressed it again. The TV did not switch ON.
“Oh, this bloody electricity” she cursed.
“So now shall we proceed for dinner then?” I requested as I got up from the sofa.
She caught hold of my left hand before pulling me to sit back with her. I bounced back and almost ended up going near her face. I now knew the joint started hitting me a bit.
“Aj I got to tell you something important,” she said looking into my eyes and still holding my hands.
In the dim light of the candles I could see her taking off her glasses, her eyes shined, her eyes looked more beautiful which I failed to notice with the glasses above it. I just did not know whether it was the effect of weed but I was finding her everything beautiful.
She continued, ”Aj you see you are someone I have been close to from the last 3 years of my life. You see I am the only child of my working parents and I just get bored. I don’t have any good friends nor do I have any siblings. All the secrets I share is only with you. I could just give up my everything on you……….”
“I think you are a little high today Richa” I stopped her.
“Do you think I am joking? Look into my eyes, just look it,” as she came closer to my face.
The shadow of her face was so close to mine that I could feel her breathe on my face. The only space between us was the breadth of our nose. All I could see was the light brown pupil of her eyes shining from the candle light. This was it, our lips touched each other. We locked both of our fingers together. The void between my fingers was filled with hers. I pressed my lips against hers. She started to bite my lips with her teeth and I bit hers. She found a pathway to insert her tongue into mine and we were locked. It was so intense that we were in no mood to look backward now. She held me by my neck and me by her waist. I slowly leaned on her as she slowly leaned herself on the sofa. I could feel the warmth of her breast on my chest. I was completely upon her now.
“Are you really doing this?” The inner heart said me. But my brains were completely enjoying the intense lust of the moment. My heart showed me of the same moment I had with Shruti years back. My brains said me to forget her and carry on with Richa now. Again my heart showed a glimpse of Shruti as I promised her to always love her after our first smooch. My brain kept on defending my heart.
Fighting between my brain and heart I chose to go with my heart. What if I am no longer in a relationship with her? But yeah I still love her. No matter how much I try to overcome it, she will never be taken out off my heart. It was as if she had her name was scratched with a stone in my heart.
I immediately took my lips off her.
“I am really, really sorry I can’t do this. Please, I am really sorry! I can’t explain it ” all those words came out of my mouth jumbled as I did not know what to say. Richa kept giving a puzzled look on me as she too did not realize what happened just now between the two of us.
Taking my jacket which was on the tea table, I walked out of the room as the wind came gushing and blowing out the candles before I closed the door.