Welcome to this week’s The BlogAdda Weekly, where we continue with the second part of the story, “A lot can happen over…” In the first part, we met Ameeta, Saurabh, and Karan, three friends whose lives were interwoven in a way that was out of their control. Read the first part here before moving on to the next. To give you a gist, Ameeta and Saurabh, love birds since college, are facing turbulent times. Then one day, Saurabh goes missing. After an agonizing week, a distraught Ameeta seeks out the help of their mutual friend Karan to hunt down Saurabh.
I had been sitting on the stairs and taking panicked breaths until Karan comes and finally calms me down. After I gather myself, Karan calls up some of Saurabh’s other friends, asking if anyone has heard from him. Nobody has. We even call up some of his colleagues, and I apply that term liberally. These were people that he sometimes needed to collaborate with for his dream project. After all, he couldn’t do everything himself, even if he wanted to. As expected, that was also a dead end; Saurabh wouldn’t have told them anything unless he really had to.
We start talking to all of his neighbors. It was Karan this time who was doing all the questioning. Most of the neighbors looked too busy in their own lives to notice anything, least of all the comings and goings of Saurabh. Some slam the doors on our faces as soon as we mention Saurabh. Puzzled at such hostile reactions, I question an elderly neighbour about these responses before she could shut the door.
Turns out, Saurabh wasn’t in the running for a popularity contest in his apartment building. He doesn’t get along with anybody and often picks up fights with everyone, not even sparing little kids playing in the passage. In fact, others had started making complaints against him for harassment. Apparently, the kids in the building had taken to calling him “The Grinch” behind his back, because he yelled and chastised them for the simplest things like making a little noise during an exciting game. I knew Saurabh hadn’t been himself lately, but I didn’t know that Saurabh had taken to being such an ill mannered recluse.
We continue to talk to people, and finally our efforts pay off, at least to some extent. Some people, who found it in their hearts to help, indicate that they hadn’t seen him since the day after our fight in the cafe, which raised the question, where did he go? And, more importantly, why?
The disappointment over lack of leads probably shows on my dejected face.“Hey, you okay?” Karan asks me.
I nod my head, not sure of what to say.
He puts his hand on my shoulder, assuring me. “It will be okay. He’s not a kid. He’ll be fine, trust me.” I nod again. “Come on, let’s get you home.” “Thanks.”
After Karan leaves, I make myself a large cup of chamomile tea, just to calm myself. As the tea brews, I can’t help but think of how Karan has been a great source of strength and support today, taking the lead in asking around, knowing that I wouldn’t be in any condition to do so. I don’t know what I would have done without him. I remember the first time I met Karan. It had been a few weeks that Saurabh and I had been dating. We were hanging out after college, when all of a sudden Saurabh raised his hand to wave to someone. I looked up to see who he is waving to, and saw a tall, floppy haired guy from class walking towards us. I had seen him and Saurabh often talking with each other. Less these days, as Saurabh had taken to sitting with me in class over the last weeks.
“Hey!” The stranger exclaimed reaching us.
“Hey? Where have you been man? Haven’t seen you in a while.” Saurabh inquired.
“I’ve been here only. You just don’t have eyes for me anymore.” The stranger teased, laughing good heartedly. He glanced at me shyly and immediately back to Saurabh, afraid that I might notice him looking at me.
“Ha. Ha. Very funny Karan. You’re hilarious.” Saurabh commented sarcastically, rolling his eyes. “By the way, this is Ameeta. I guess you guys haven’t met. Ameeta, this is Karan, my best friend since childhood.”
“Hi.” “Hey.” Both of us said at the same time, awkwardly.
As awkward as our first meeting was, we became good friends over time. Turns out we had more in common than just a mutual fondness for Saurabh. We liked similar books and movies, both of us were dedicated, shy and honest to a fault.
All three of us often used to hang out together in college. Saurabh used to joke that Karan and I had become better friends that they were, but if he had any problem with it, he never indicated it. It was only after college, that Saurabh started having problems with our friendship. He would often complain that Karan was interfering between us, and he didn’t like it when Karan and I hung out together, even if it was for the simple reason that our offices were in the same area.
As per his wishes, Karan and I stopped hanging out altogether. Eventually, Karan stopped hanging out with us at all. We’d still meet once in a while, but it was strange to see cracks in the close friendship between Saurabh and Karan. Soon, Karan’s interaction with us was limited to Whatsapp ‘Hellos’ and birthday wishes.
Yet, after Saurabh had virtually shunted Karan out of his life, today it was Karan by my side helping me find Saurabh, his best friend, my boyfriend, without any trace of bitterness or distance.
I had taken the day off today. Tossing and turning, I finally succumb to sleep in the early hours of the morning. Knowing that there was no way I could work today without thinking of Saurabh, I had messaged the boss last night saying that I wouldn’t be coming in. I find myself wide awake at 9 am, torturing myself by thinking about all the possible worst case scenarios that could happen to Saurabh, and contemplating whether to rush to the police station to file a missing persons case.
My growling stomach breaks my chain of thought. Damn! I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast yesterday, though I hadn’t noticed my hunger because I was too busy worrying about Saurabh. Just then, the door bell rings. Wishing it to be Saurabh, I run to the door and open it, only to find Karan standing there.
“Hi. What are you doing here?” I inquire.
“Breakfast delivery! I figured that you hadn’t eaten for a long time, and would be hungry.” He holds up a bag of food.
I shake my head, smiling softly.
“Great.” He walks in and starts to take the food out and set it on the table.
I walk into the kitchen to get some plates and spoons.
As we start eating, Karan turns to me and asks, “How are you holding up?”
“Fine, I guess.”
“Uh huh, and how are you really?”
I look at him exasperatedly, “Sad, disappointed, angry. I don’t know. I’m a mess.” He nods sympathetically. “I just feel so helpless, like I have no control on this huge part of my life. How can he just up and disappear, without any warning, without any thought for what I will go through. How can he be so inconsiderate?” I look at Karan half exasperatedly, and half desperately, like he would have some sort of answer. “What if something really horrible has happened to him, and I can’t find out because he didn’t tell me where he was going in the first place?!”, I almost screech at Karan.
He looks as lost as I feel. “Don’t worry Ameeta, he will surely be OK. We would have heard something if God forbid something bad happened to him. I don’t want to pry in your relationship so I don’t know why he didn’t tell you. I’m as surprised as you are. This cold and cruel Saurabh is not the one who was my childhood friend. It’s like something has snapped inside him”, he says, toying with his plate of food.
“Do you think that he would have gone to his parents’ holiday home?” I ask unexpectedly.
He looks at me confused. I knew I had caught him off guard. “I don’t know.” He ponders. “I guess?! It is possible, but we can’t really be sure.”
“Not until we go and check.” I’m excited, finally I’m not helpless anymore. We have a direction to move into. I look at my half eaten plate of food, and then at Karan. “Let’s go. Now.”
“But… Are you sure you want to do this? We might not even find him there. I think we should stay put in case he comes back or there is some news of him.”
“I can’t just sit around waiting for him. I need to take action. I need to find him, so that he can answer for himself.”
I look at him, almost getting agitated. “I want to go Karan. It’s hardly a three hour ride away, so we’ll be back before night and won’t miss anything here. I can’t stay here with Saurabh missing. Let’s go, please.”
“Fine.” He says getting up half-heartedly.
I’m dressed and ready to go within half an hour. I settle myself in the passenger seat of Karan’s car and get ready for the 3 hour ride that it will take to reach Saurabh’s farmhouse. Along with the hope that we find Saurabh there, is the dread of the condition I’ll find him in. Will he be sad and distraught about the way things were with us? Will he be happy and enjoying himself, trying to forget me and our disagreements? Will he yell at me again for disturbing him? With all the turmoil going on in my mind, I take solace in the fact that no matter what happens, at least Karan will be there with me to face Saurabh.
Lost in my own thoughts, I barely remember the ride there. The traffic on the way has made our 3 hour journey stretch to 5 hours. Karan looks tired from the long drive, but tries not to show it. When we finally reach the place, the sun is starting to set, covering everything in its soft glow. It is beautiful and at any other time, I would have loved to sit and soak in the grandeur of the hill station, but today I barely notice it.
My thoughts are only of Saurabh and our imminent reunion, however pleasant or unpleasant it might be. I walk towards the gate of the farmhouse with a heart that’s beating so hard that I’m sure Karan can hear it in the silence around us. As I peer at the house, I realize with growing horror that there are no lights switched on inside the house, the garden is over run with weeds, and the gate is locked.
The adrenaline rush I was feeling in the hope of coming face to face with Saurabh leaves me, taking with it all my energy as well. I slump down on the low wall in front of the house, sapped of all strength. Karan sits down beside me. I can feel the fight inside me leave, and I suddenly feel utterly, depressingly tired. My head spinning, I rest my head on Karan’s shoulder. I feel him tense up for a second, before relaxing again.
“What am I going to do Karan? Why am I even doing this? Saurabh is not the same anymore. I’m not the same anymore. He keeps making me feel like an unwanted intruder in his life! I have supported him for all these years till his dream start up takes off, I have given his career more importance than mine! Can you imagine what I go through when Saurabh resents me, my success, and even my love for him?!” I didn’t plan to say any of it, but the tension of the last 8 days rushes out of me in a tornado. I start babbling about everything that has happened over the past year – Saurabh’s professional failures, his getting angry with me, his accusations of me cheating on him, his accusations that I enjoy seeing him fail in comparison to my success, his apologizing after fights and repeating the same cycle. I was tired.
“Ameeta, you’re a strong, brave girl. I have seen you succeed at everything in college and your job. You’re not a person who will give up so soon. I know things are difficult. But I have faith in you. Where’s the fighter Ameeta that I know?”, Karan says while patting my shoulder.
I raise my head to look at him. “Why are you always so nice to me Karan? You’ve always thought highly of me since college, even when I don’t deserve it.”
He looks down at me. “Someone has to, since you’re busy beating yourself up, since college times, for no fault of yours”, he says while wiping away the tears that I hadn’t even realized were flowing down my cheeks.
I chuckle at his veiled compliment, and realize it’s the first time in forever that I have actually laughed. I also realize, with a jolt, that I like the way his fingers touch my cheeks softly, hesitatingly, the way someone would touch a delicate butterfly. I’m surprised to see how close our faces are. I look into his eyes. I want to reach up and touch his face, too, the all too familiar face that I’m seeing in a new light. I can’t help but notice how the setting sun casts a shadow on his face. I notice the outline of his lips, how the stubble he has let grow frames his lips perfectly.
Something must have shifted in my face, and Karan responds, leaning closer to me till our foreheads are almost touching, hand still on my shoulder from when he was consoling me. Suddenly, alarms blare in my head. ‘What am I doing?, I can’t think such thoughts about Saurabh’s best friend! When Saurabh is missing!’, my inner voice chastises me.
I jerk my shoulder and sit up straight. Karan stares at me, half surprised, half saddened, but follows my lead. He has the courtesy to look ashamed, and suddenly the air around us is thick with awkwardness.
“It’s getting late. We should get back to the city.” My voice sounds hollow and rude even to me, as I get up and start walking towards the car.
And that’s the end of Part 2 of this story. Did you like it? Would you like to shape the way it goes ahead? Check out Part 3 of the story to see if your predictions are correct. Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!