Shabby was wrapping up his dinner early tonight. It was Friday and he was preparing to jam up with his music band on the new application they downloaded last week. His girlfriend Sofie will be binge watching till Shabby finishes his jamming.
Just then the call came. The most waited but the most unexpected call. At first Shabby ignored as the number displayed on the screen had a foreign country code. But when the call came again he picked up. The other side of the call was a lady with a different accent. She said “Hello……..am I speaking to Shabby? Please confirm sir as there is something really of utmost concern which I need to tell you.”
Shabby replied “yeah……. I am Shabby. But who are you? Where are you calling from? Do I know you?” Shabby was breathing heavily.
The voice said “thank God. Finally the search is over. I am a nurse and I am calling from SEVENTH HILL hospital Nepal. My name is Gauri. I ……..”
Shabby didn’t let her complete her sentence. He said “Nepal? Are you kidding me?”
The voice other side quickly picked up her words and said “sir please just listen to me. I beg. There is a patient in our critical ward from last 10 years in comma. He came back to his senses a month back. And the first word from his mouth was ‘Shabby’. We didn’t leave any stone unturned to search for Shabby. We found tons of Shabbys in America and we are asking the same question to every Shabby.”
“What is it?” Shabby asked quickly.
“Do you know Jaguar? This is exactly what he said his name.” the voice on the other side said with empathy.
The mobile phone fell from Shabby’s hand on the carpet. Shabby lost the sense of hearing. The voice was constantly speaking. After few moments of momentary shock, shabby picked up the phone and said “what did you say his name Jaguar? Yes I know him. Can you do me a favor?”
Zed’s garage has once again become their meeting spot. Not all are present today but the one who are present are traumatized.
“It was our entire fault” said John sharply.
“No it was my fault” said Rachel while standing at the door.
Everyone turned their heads to Rachel. She was once the love interest of Jaguar, a one sided affair of course.
Rachel continued “remember that day? We went to Benjamin’s wooden cabin by the lake. We were having a great time together.”
Zed added “yes and at first we started with horror stories and all. Then we started playing that truth and dare game. I wish we hadn’t played that game that day.”
“We all knew Jaguar was the most stubborn among all of us. But we had no idea that he can go to such an extent.” John said overwhelmingly.
“And I took the undue advantage of his stubbornness. I kind of hated him. That night I did the most insane thing to torture him.” Rachel added with a guilty pain in her voice.
She continued “I deliberately started playing the game of ‘Truth and Dare’ and I was very much sure that stubborn Jaguar would pick up the task instead of speaking the truth. Those days I and Mike were madly in love with each other. When my turn came I revealed the truth about Mike and my relationship. I knew that would be a fluke to Jaguar. I waited for his turn.”
Shabby was sitting quite from a long time. He said “that’s why you gave him the dare to climb the cliffs of Kathmandu. I still remember how excited he was to prove his worth to Rachel. One fine day just after our convocation day he left for Kathmandu. Do you remember that day Rachel?”
Rachel replied with tearful eyes “how can I not remember? He came to see all of us right over here in Zed’s garage. We were shocked when he said he is leaving for Nepal to complete his dare. We had completely forgotten but he didn’t. He was as stubborn as a bull. He never returned after that day until today when Shabby brought the news of his existence.”
Shabby said “he was declared dead by the locals. They even said that his body was not found. But look at his obstinacy; he had to return otherwise his dare would not be considered complete.”
“What did you tell the nurse?” John asked.
“I asked her not to tell Jaguar anything about our conversation. I want to surprise that bull.” Shabby said with a wicked smile on his lips.
Jaguar was in sleep when the gang reached the hospital. The nurse and the doctors looked anxious and relieved to see all of them. The nurse Gauri walked up to them and asked “who is Shabby?”
Shabby came forward and the nurse took her aside.
The wait was arduous and throbbing. Rachel was shading tears sitting alone at a corner. Shabby walked near her and put his hand on her shoulder. Rachel said with sobs and hiccups “will he forgive me Shabby? I am the reason he lost 10 years from his life. The doctors returned him his life but how will I return him his 10 years?”
After a long wait only Shabby was allowed to see Jaguar in the Intensive Care ward. Shabby’s eyes were filled with tears of regression. He went near Jaguar’s bed, took his hand in his and watched him with both pity and rage. Jaguar slowly opened his eyes and he forgot blinking. He was shocked to see his best friend sitting in front of him and smiling.
Shabby asked keeping a low tone “hey! How are you Jags? Can you talk?”
Jaguar nodded his head in a yes and pressed Shabby’s hand with his fingers.
Shabby said “I am not going to ask about how you ended up here in this hospital or where were you from last 10 years. I just want to ask what made you stick to that stupid dare you picked up that night on Benjamin’s cabin when we all had almost forgotten. Why my friend? Your stubbornness took away 10 years from your life.”
Shabby pointed his index finger outside the door and said “there one girl is sitting alone, crying like hell and blaming herself for whatever condition you are from last so many years.”
Shabby couldn’t talk more. He was crying.
Jaguar said very softly “Rachel has come to see me? Who else have come?”
“I, Rachel and Zed have come. They are outside.” Shabby replied.
“I want to see all. Please request the nurse.” Jaguar said with agony in his voice.
Tears rolled down from Jaguar’s cheeks but his lips were smiling. There was the same question on everyone’s face and Jaguar could easily interpret that. After a long silence he said
“None of you need to blame yourselves. For God sake don’t. Rachel I am really very glad to see you. Even after so many years, you all are standing right in front of me what else do I ask for. Believe me I have no qualm for what I did. Neither would I say it was wrong. You all know me. I on the contrary feel proud that I successfully reached the top of the cliff and completed my dare.”
The three of them looked at each other and the malignity was clearly visible on their faces.
Jaguar broke the grave silence and said with a pinch of excitement “I tried to take a perfect photo and I tripped over a rock; what I only remember is the moment when I was going down and down. After that moment, I opened my eyes last only last month. So at the end of the day I was happy and satisfied. So there’s no space for repentance. After all I am a Taurus. And Taurus’s are meant to be stubborn like bulls.”
All the four friends burst out laughing.