This episode is a final part of 3 Episode Series “The Lost Connection“. The Scenes are continued from the 1st and 2nd Episodes. Click here to read the 1st Episode and here to read the 2nd Episode and feel the bond of love that defines the journey ahead.
Continued from XIII.
“I don’t know what you mean? I talked to that girl. She is all over you.” Nikhil said defensively.
“You don’t know man.” Akshay repeated.
“Then, tell me.” Nikhil grabbed his shoulder and pushed him.
He staggered a bit and looked down at the ground as he said –
“She has a boyfriend.”
Somewhere in Mumbai…(14:07; June 1, 2016)
“Who is this guy?”
“It’s… It’s Akshay.” Amren whispered his name. His name on her lips sent a sudden feeling of warmth to her heart and the opposite to her weak limbs.
“I can see that, Amren.” He said. He had never called her by her name except in situations like this.
“Who is he to you?” He asked in a stern voice which was on the edge of breaking.
Everything I ever wanted. A voice sounded inside her. She stifled it and said – “Just a friend.”
“I trust you.” Lokesh said, swallowing hard, almost not trusting himself.
“Don’t.” Amren replied.
His eyes widened at that and he let his voice break this time as he said – “Are you leaving?”
He did not have to wait for a response because he knew so he just watched as she merely nodded.
“Is it me? Did I do something wrong?” Lokesh pleaded Amren as he held his girlfriend’s hands.
“What is it, then?” Lokesh said as a little sob escaped his throat.
“I am not sure.” Amren said.
“Do you love him?” Lokesh cried.
“I don’t know.” She replied looking down at his hands wrapped around hers. It felt wrong. All of it suddenly felt just not right.
“Do you, Amren?” Lokesh asked again, this time, holding her hands tighter. Maybe he was scared to let go. Maybe he just knew.
“Yes.” She said as she looked into his eyes for one last time. She could see the broken pieces of his heart through the windows of his soul. His eyes. They always had been beautiful. So beautiful. She no longer doubted those girls who fell for him over the years.
Lokesh dropped her hands at that and sobbed. He knelt down on his knees, covered his face with his hands and sobbed.
“I am sorry.” Amren said as she watched the love of her life break in front of her.
She realized that sometimes it is hard to choose and that sometimes your lost piece is not the love of your life; that sometimes you want them to be the same person. Wishful thinking, she thought.
She let him hug her legs and cry. She let him cry as much as he desired even though it broke her heart. She let him curse her. She let him plead her. She just watched. Helpless.
Even though she wanted to stay, even though she wanted to hug him back and tell him that she is not going anywhere, even though she wanted to do everything he wanted, she didn’t.
Because she knew. She knew that it wouldn’t be just, that it wouldn’t be fair to him when all she could think about was Akshay. She knew that people will call her names. She knew the judgments coming her way. She knew them all. She decided to face all of them for him. It was hard to tell which of them was ‘him’ though.
“I am sorry.” Lokesh kept repeating. She wasn’t sure what for but she let him apologize.
“I can’t do this anymore.” Akshay cried over the phone while he pulled at his hair. “It is driving me crazy.” He seethed.
“But what is…” Amren pleaded. “Tell me what is bothering you.”
“I can’t.” Akshay said firmly. He could not. He could not tell her how many times his heart had broken. He could not tell her the pain he felt every time she was with someone else.
“Please…” Amren began but got interrupted –
“I can’t.” Akshay repeated.
“Please.” Amren whispered.
“Forget I ever existed.”
Chat conversation between Nikhil and Amren (12:02; July 1, 2016)
Nikhil: Let’s skip the greetings.
Amren: Fine. What is it, then?
Nikhil: Don’t just skip everything now. Be a little lovey-dovey.
Amren: *rolls her eyes*
Nikhil: I really like you.
Amren: *makes a disgusted face.*
Nikhil: Don’t be a pervert. I like you like a friend.
Nikhil: We should go on a trip.
Amren: WE? You and me, we?
Nikhil: No. You wish. You, me and your guy.
Amren: He is not my guy.
Nikhil: You guys really should stop pretending.
Nikhil: He is a great guy…
Amren: I know.
Nikhil: Don’t let him go.
Amren: I promise.
Nikhil: Good. If you break it, I will haunt you, sweetheart.
Amren: By the way, Happy birthday, scary guy.
Nikhil: I don’t mind a strip tease.
Amren: *obscene gesture*
“Are you crazy?” Nikhil bellowed.
“I know.” Akshay said as he rubbed his forehead with his fingers.
“Why would you do that?” Nikhil hissed.
“I just couldn’t. I just couldn’t listen to her talk about someone else. I just couldn’t pretend.” Akshay tried to explain.
Nikhil remained quiet, searching for the right words.
“Whenever I call her early in the morning to just listen to her precious voice masked with the sleep in her body, I wish to be with her. I wish to hug her tight and kiss her forehead. I wish to be hers and her to be mine.” Akshay continued.
“Oh, my romantic cheese head.” Nikhil teased. Akshay smiled a little and Nikhil relaxed a bit at that.
“You will do all of that. I promise.” Nikhil thought to himself.
(14:04; July 4, 2016)
“Hello?” Amren said questioningly to the unknown number who called.
“This is me.” Nikhil said, trying to sound sexy.
“Scary guy!” Amren exclaimed.
“You should stop calling me that.” Nikhil said.
“Is weirdo a good name?”
“Never mind.” Nikhil said. “Let’s get to the point.”
“What is it? What is going on exactly between you and Akshay?” Nikhil asked.
“Sorry?” Amren said as her body went numb at that question. She has been asking herself the same question for a year then and was too scared to face the answer.
“You heard me.”
“I…that’s…why should I tell you?” Amren asked.
“Because…I am sick of you guys playing games with my mind.”
“What?” Amren said, confused.
“Just tell me.”
“I…um…I am not sure.”
“Do you love him?” Nikhil asked as he pressed his ear piece closer to his ear, in case he missed it.
“I…do.” Amren said and clutched the collar of her shirt as she said that. “I do.” She repeated. It felt amazing to say it. “I love him.”
(16:00; July 4, 2016)
“I need to tell you something.” Nikhil’s voice roared over the phone.
“There are people who say hello when they pick up the phone and then there is you.” Akshay mocked Nikhil.
“Stop acting like you are okay.”
“I spoke to Amren. I need to tell you something and it’s very important.”
“What is it?” Akshay asked, his heart racing to the sound of her name.
“It’s a surprise.” Nikhil grinned. “Now, pick your ass up, I am coming.”
“Okay.” Akshay sighed.
(19:37; July 4, 2016)
A phone ringing somewhere in Chennai…
“Hello.” Akshay spoke as he picked his phone up, gathering as much courage as he could.
“Hey.” Amren’s voice sang in his ears and broke what was buried inside him.
He had never thought this day would come. He had never expected his best friend to leave. He had never dreamed in his wildest nightmares that he would say these words.
“Nikhil is no more.” He said as his hands trembled and his lips quivered.
He dropped the phone as soon as realization hit him. A pang of pain shot through him as his heart kept telling him that if he calls Nikhil, he will pick it up; that this is not true, that all of this is just a bad dream and he will wake up very soon.
Except that he did not.
He had received a call from Nikhil’s phone that evening later.
“Where are you?” He had asked as soon as he picked up the phone. “We are already late for the movie.” He had said. He had been nervous about what Nikhil had said in their previous conversation. He had wanted to ask him about Amren.
“Um… Are you a friend of his?” An unknown voice had boomed through the phone. All of it sounded too hurried.
“Who is this?” Akshay had asked.
“Your friend has met with an accident. Can you please come?”
“Where?” That is all he had asked.
When he reached there, he had not expected to see what he saw right there. It was a usual thing for them. Accidents. But they always managed.
It was a pool of blood right there in the middle of the road. Nikhil was lying there holding his right arm in pain. His head was injured. As Akshay neared the spot, Nikhil saw him. Their eyes met and Akshay saw the fear in his best friend’s eyes. He had never seen it before.
He hurried towards him and picked him up. Akshay lifted him and took him in a taxi to rush to the hospital.
He tied his handkerchief over the wound to stop the bleeding. But it did not stop.
He looked at his friend who was losing consciousness by that time.
“Hey…” Nikhil said.
“You will be fine. Just hold up.” Akshay replied. He was sure that he will be fine.
“Hey…” Nikhil said again as he held his friend’s hands. Akshay looked down at Nikhil and at his hands. He was wearing the gloves Akshay had gifted him for his birthday. He had always wanted them. He had told him that he would show them off in their future bike rides, which he would, Akshay believed.
“We are almost there.” Akshay said.
“I love you, bro.” Nikhil said with a faint smile.
And those were the last words Akshay ever heard.
It was all blinding silence after that. Akshay held on to Nikhil’s limp hands and tried to wake him up but he did not even move an inch.
“This isn’t funny, Nikhil.” Akshay repeated over and over again.
“This isn’t…okay!!!” Akshay screamed as he shook his best friend’s body.
“NO!” Akshay screamed and the taxi came to a stop. He did not cry. He did not believe. He could not believe. “No.” Akshay whispered.
To scary guy,
I wish I had known you better. I wish I had told you how much you meant to me. I wish we had met. I wish we had gone on that trip. I wish you were here. I know you exist in the multiverse and I know you there because you are my lost connection. I don’t know whom to tell. I wish I could tell you but you are so far away.
She knew that she wasn’t the only one feeling so much pain. In fact, there were many whose hearts were bleeding for Nikhil. But is pain really comparable? Pain is pain, after all. And hers was something no one could ever understand. She had never met him. She wasn’t his friend, as others would say. But Nikhil knew. If only he were here to make them understand how she was feeling. But he wasn’t.
She kept checking his last messages waiting for a reply. He never did.
He was gone. He had left them in a void of darkness to find a place where all his dreams promised to come true.
She had not given up writing letters to him. She had not stopped calling Akshay. He did not pick up. She was anxious. She was a mess.
She was lying on the floor in her own pool of tears when the doorbell rang –
“Hi.” He said as she opened the door.
She did not even think and just kissed him –
“I love you.” She said.
“I love you more.” Akshay said as he kissed her forehead.
“Don’t give it a second thought.” Nikhil’s last message read.
This story is dedicated to my late friend Nikhil Arolla. I hope you are watching over us from wherever you are. I miss you and I love you.