0 comments

Friendship Fiction Drama

It was midnight. Vicky cleared the kitchen sink and loaded the dishwasher before getting ready to sleep. He was glad it was a long weekend. He usually plans hikes or treks whenever he gets such opportunities. But this weekend he wanted to get some rest. It was a cool summer night in San Francisco. He quickly cuddles up on his bed with a warm quilt to cozy him.  After a tiresome day, the warmth acted on him fast. In no time, he could hear his own snore faintly at a distance, but he was still thinking. He was in the realm where the difference between thinking and dreaming obscured, when the ringing of his phone broke his reverie. Vicky was the manager of operations at an upcoming logistics company. So, the phone ringing at that time and at that moment was not new to him. But what was new was that it was from India. He found it strange. He picked up the phone. 

“Hello” 

“Is it Vikram?” 

“Yes, it is.” 

“Hey Vicky, sorry to disturb you, man. It’s Vinay, from VIT” 

“Wow, Vinny! how are you? Long time, yaar, 10 years?” 

“Yeah. Am good. How are you?” 

“Going on, man. Tell me, how come.” 

“Am getting engaged day after tomorrow.” 

“Wow! Thats great. Who is the girl?”. Vicky sat up on his bed.  

“It is an arranged marriage. Distantly related, yeah” 

“Congrats, man. I don’t think I can make it to the engagement, but I will try and make it to the wedding.” 

“Vicky, I need a help, actually” 

“What’s it?” 

“I want you to get me the phone number of Alekya.” 

“Yeah, sure. I am not in touch with her, but I will try with others who might know her number” 

“But that’s not the only help, yaar. Last I knew, she was in the US. I want you to meet her and somehow find out what she thought of me” 

“What do you mean what she thought of you?”. Vicky got up from his bed and walked up to his desk and looked out of his window. Vicky’s house was on a hill, and he looked out at the brightly lit expanse of the city of San Francisco. He wondered if under some light, there was Alekya reading her book while humming a song. He realized though that the US did not mean SF. But he hoped.  

“You know, na, Vicky. I just want to have a closure. I don’t feel prepared for a new relationship before I know for sure that it all ended with her.” 

“Are you nuts? What kind of closure? There was never a beginning. It was ten years ago. Am sure you guys never spoke in the last ten years!” 

“I know yaar. It is just in my mind, and I want to clear it out. Please help me with this.” 

“I will try, yaar” 

“No Vicky, you can do it if you want to. Please help with this. For the old times” 

“OK. Monday evening is the engagement, right?” 

Vinay was glad to hear that question.  “Yeah. It will be Monday morning for you.” 

“Alright.” 

“Thanks, yaar. Sorry to have disturbed you” 

“Thats ok. Let’s catch up. See Ya.” 

“Bye, yaar” 

Vicky pulled Jack Daniels out from the cupboard and poured himself a drink. The first sip took him back to the first time he, Alekya and Vinny tried a drink. Kingfisher strong beer. It was the last day of the college fest at VIT during their final year of Engineering Bachelor’s. The three had performed for the hit number “Mustafa, Mustafa” of A.R.Rahman, which was the unofficial college anthem of all colleges in those days. Vicky on the keyboard, Alekya and Vinny with the vocals. Vinny had bought two bottles of Kingfisher Strong beer and the three of them had snuck into Vinny’s room after the cultural program to enjoy the drink. It must be 10 PM. Those were the days in India when girls were judged for their morality for drinking, let alone drinking with boys in a boy’s hostel room at night. But it was Alekya. She sat down on Vinny’s chair, pulled out Pearl S. Buck’s “The long love” from her bag, set the bookmarker to the last page and started reading, humming Lata Mangeshkar's “Tere Bina Jeeya Jaye na”. Vicky could not find chips or peanuts to have with the drinks. So, he went out to get something to go with the drinks. The college had a night cafeteria near the hostel that sold exactly and only the things that students sought after the mid night – tea, cigarettes, omelette, Maggi, and chips. He bought two packets of chips and was entering the hostel building when Alekya rushed out fuming. She looked at Vicky and said, “tell him he does not own me. I decide whom I speak to and how. Not him.” Vicky asked whether he should go with her to the girls hostel. She declined and left alone. Later, Vinny dismissed it as typical girl tantrums. 

Vicky finished his Jack Daniels and took out the phone again to see the time. It was half past midnight. He paused and thought for a while before deciding to call Imran, his junior at college and Alekya’s classmate.  

“Hello Vicky Anna. How are you?” 

“Hey Imran. Howz the business? Howz Aapa now?” 

“Aapa recovered, Anna. It was early stage. Thanks for the help at the right time, Anna” 

“It was nothing, Imran. I need a small help, a silly help actually” 

“Anything for you, Anna. Please tell me” 

“Do you have Alekya’s number?” 

“Anna, at last! I am so happy.” 

“Hey Imran, it’s not like that. Vinny had asked for her number” 

“Why do you oblige him, Anna? Because of him you gave up Alekya. I remember the day he shamelessly requested you. And finally, he dumped her” 

“I think she dumped him, Imran” 

“Yes Anna. His antics might have made her dump him. Anna, if it is for him, I will not do it.” 

“Imran, it has been 10 years. We have all come a long way. Just her contact number to him and end of it. I don’t want to go back ten years now. I just want to move forward. Let us get it done with” 

“OK Anna.” 

“It is a bit urgent though, Imran. Please try to get it by tomorrow” 

“OK Anna” 

Vicky stretched back on the chair and yawned. Some want to go back to the past to move forward and some avoid the past to move forward. Vicky laughed to himself at this thought and went back to bed. But he could only try to sleep the whole night.  

Even before it was morning, he got a call back from Imran. Apparently, Alekya was active in their WhatsApp group till last year after which she suddenly cut herself off from everyone. She was apparently going through a troubled marriage with a US based techie.  She had also deleted all her social media accounts. Vicky thought it explained why Vinny could not trace her and needed his help. But Imran also told that she had returned to India and was with her father in Rajahmundry. He could not get her number but got her Rajahmundry address. Vicky forwarded the address to Vinny and packed his bags for a two day hike. Solitude of home felt scary to him. 

** 

Vinny was relieved to receive the message from Vicky. Vicky was his trump card that never failed. He had been distraught at the thought of getting married. He was not sure if it was because of Alekya or if she was just a ruse to avoid getting married to a girl whom he did not find attractive. Even if he was sure, he did not acknowledge it. He would rather take desperate measures than face his demons. So, he decided to meet Alekya even if it felt awkward and odd. Rajahmundry was only a four hour drive from Visakhapatnam, where he lived. He set off to Rajahmundry early on Sunday morning.  

Alekya was surprised to see him, though not shocked. She was indeed glad and made him coffee. She told about herself, her divorce, her new passion for teaching, and asked all about him, made him feel comfortable and welcome. But he also sensed that though she found it weird that he turned up like that one fine morning at her house, she was hiding it and playing normal. He knew that the talk was not going in the right direction. He wanted to know for sure what she thought of him. So, he started off obliquely. 

“So, Alekya, don’t you wish we had the good old days back again” 

“Yeah.” She responded with a single word. Vinny was not sure how to take it and he persisted. 

“I miss being together, you know with friends and all I mean” 

“Vinny, you see, I am happy now. I want you to be happy too. Don’t waste your time here. I am actually very happy to see you. I only wish we keep in touch with each other, like good friends, wishing and praying for each other's good. You have come a long way. I wish I could spend more time with you.” 

“Yeah, thanks for your time, Alekya. Will take leave now” 

“No, no. Please stay a bit longer. I still have some time before my tuition kids come over. I made Gulab Jamun yesterday. Please have it and go.” She went into the kitchen.  

If she were an assassin, Vinny thought, she would have killed a person and make him feel good about it. Vinny felt relieved. She knew too well how to handle a cranky like him. May be that is why he kept wishing her back. But he also knew too well to take her firm reply lightly. He got his answer.  

She came back with a bowl of Gulab Jamun. As he was about to finish the bowl,  

“Where is Vicky these days?” She asked. 

“I don’t know. We have not been in touch so much. He was somewhere in US” 

“Married there or something?” She persisted. 

“Not sure, Alekya. May be. I will leave now”. He said, getting up to leave. 

He knew he was bad at lying and she was good at finding a lie. She smiled and got up from her seat to see him off.  

Driving back, Vinny loathed himself for lying about Vicky. But he could not answer her then in any other way. He could not believe that she was still interested in him. It could be jealousy, or it could that he liked Alekya too much to imagine her with someone else. She could find someone and be happy with him, as long as he was not the one to find that someone for her. But, Pangs of guilt, and the flurry of thoughts asking him questions and mocking him forced him to stop the car at a Dhaba. He ordered tea and took out a cigarette. After a couple of drags, he took out the phone and called Vicky, but Vicky’s phone was unreachable. So, he dropped an SMS message: “I have something important to tell you. Please call back.” It was either the cigarette or the SMS message, but he felt much calmer and drove back. 

** 

Vicky was returning from the campsite on Sunday evening when he got the cellular network back on his phone. He reached home by the night and the first thing he did was to get into the bathroom for a shower. For a person coming from a camping trip, shower and a toilet will seem like the most invaluable treasures that a person could have. Feeling fresh, in body and mind, Vicky sat down to watch T.V and then started to scan his mobile. Vinny’s message intrigued him. He was curious to know if he had really met Alekya. So, he called. 

“Hi Vinny.” 

“Hi Vicky, Thanks man. I did not thank you for the help” 

“Thats ok. You wanted to tell me something?” 

“Yeah. That one. Nothing. I just wanted to tell you that marriage date has been finalized. It is October 12th. You should definitely come.” 

September 03, 2022 03:23

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

0 comments

RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.