A surprise visit to Shikha…
“She is going through her tough phase. She needs me.” That was the only thing on his mind. With all the positivity he could fill in himself, Rohit planned his one day trip to Mumbai.
Rohit took the early flight and reached Mumbai. He knew the time when Shikha would leave for her work. Reaching her office avenue half an hour before Shikha, he called her number. After two consecutive calls, she answered.
“Hey, what’s up? You calling so early today?” Shikha was a bit surprised as Rohit would generally call her during her lunch breaks or on her way back home.
“Nothing much. Was just missing you a lot so thought…” Rohit left his words hanging in the air.
“Awww… I know dear but things are very messy. I am so much tied up in work that sometimes I don’t check my cell for days together. I am sorry…” Shikha replied getting in the taxi.
“That’s fine dear, I know it all. So, you started for office?” Rohit asked as he made himself comfortable in the cafeteria opposite her office building, at some distance.
“Ya just got the cab. This morning rush is so horrible and if you miss the time of your office, traffic gets hectic.” Shikha replied with a heavy sigh and making herself comfortable in the cab.
“So how long will it take for you to reach office?” Rohit asked watching the time in his watch.
“Probably in 20 mins; but why are you asking this all of a sudden?” Shikha felt it a bit odd.
“I am waiting for you in the cafeteria opposite to your office.” Rohit replied with a grin spreading across his face.
“What? You are in Mumbai?” Shikha was shocked with her eyes wide open.
“Yup. Just got in this morning. Now come soon, I am waiting.” Rohit ended the call before Shikha could continue with her anxious questions.
She reached in no time, nudging the cab driver to drive fast. Rohit was sitting outside so that he could spot her easily. His eyes were drifting from left to right with every cab passing by as he didn’t know from which side of the road the love of his life would arrive. A cab came to a screeching halt and Shikha stepped out hurriedly and rushed to the waiting Rohit. They hugged each other tightly that it was an early morning eye-catching scene for the passers.
“What are you doing in Mumbai? And why you didn’t inform me.” Shikha was shocked rather than surprise.
“I came just to meet you, dear.” Rohit cupped her face and looked into her eyes. Shikha’s eyes looked into his eyes. She couldn’t look more and her eyes started drifting here and there. Rohit understood that she was getting conscious and spoke.
“Shall we sit inside?” They both walked inside the cafe.
“So what’s the plan?” Rohit asked rubbing his hands to make it a big day of their lives.
“I have a meeting in half an hour.” Shikha looked at her watch, avoiding eye contact with Rohit.
“Okay, after that we can spend some time together.” Rohit didn’t let his spirits down. Shikha closed her eyes and took a deep breath before speaking.
“Rohit, it won’t be possible. I have to finish the meeting and rush back home. I am running short of time in the tightly packed schedule.” Shikha sighed.
“That’s fine dear, maybe, I should have informed you so that you could have managed some time for me.” A lopsided smile on Rohit’s face revealed that he was disheartened.
“Rohit…” Shikha closed her eyes and took a deep breath before saying anything more. Rohit’s gaze was fixated on her. Deep in his heart, he knew what was coming.
“You’ll have to understand few things. Whatever was between us is past and no one can stay in the past. It ruins the present and future. I know you have travelled all the way to meet me but you need to understand. Things are different here, people are living to make their dreams come true. I told you before also, you are wasting your time in that small town.” Shikha stopped, looking at Rohit who was now staring at his coffee mug. It was tough for both.
“Listen, I am at that stage of my life where I need to establish myself. My editing work is getting hectic day by day and my sessions for my poems are draining me and I love this hustle. I can’t let anything distract me at this stage.” She kept her hand on his.
“Rohit, I know I am hurting you but you are the only one I count on to understand me.” Shikha sighed.
“I understand…” Rohit didn’t meet her eyes.
“And please, for God’s sake. Get out of that place. You can be far more successful than anyone can dream off.” Shikha could see the moist lines in Rohit’s eyes for the first time.
“Life keeps on moving ahead Rohit and you too have to MOVE ON…” Shikha said tapping Rohit’s hand.
“Ya… You’ll get late for the meeting.” Rohit replied taking a deep breath and looking at his watch.
“And what will you do?” Shikha asked surprisingly as she didn’t anticipate the way Rohit managed himself after getting hit by a train of emotions, a hard but bitter reality.
“I’ll be fine. Will head back home in few mins.” Rohit rubbed his palm on his forehead. Before Shikha could ask anything more, Rohit continued.
“I’ll get the next flight and will reach home.” Rohit got up and paid the bills. Shikha felt sorry for him but…words disappeared on their way from her heart to her lips.
“Take care, and I promise, I’ll be successful from that small town itself.” Rohit smiled and hugged her tightly. He softly kissed her forehead and left before Shikha could say anything.
On the way back to the airport, Shikha’s words kept rattling in his head.
He didn’t bother to have his lunch and took the next flight.
Rohit was now no longer interested in the job. He started working to make his future and be the entrepreneur of his life. He got himself involved in starting up the manufacturing unit for surgical items at huge scale. With his years of experience in the field of commerce, he pulled the right strings to get the business started with perfect people who had offered him a partnership in past times.
In just a year, Rohit’s manufacturing unit was all set and he was at liberty to do whatever he wanted. The unit was fully automated and mainly handled by his partner and everything was going perfect.
He started taking his painting and photography seriously and took them to a higher level of the commercial platform. He started his website where he could auction his paintings.
Just one and half year, after he met Shikha in Mumbai, his life had totally changed. He became one of the most successful people but still kept himself in the low limelight. A hefty bank account with luxurious properties all over the state and line of stylish cars was all at the tip of his fingers.
Shikha, on the other hand, started getting frustrated. She soon realised that the people around her were not what they seemed to be. Every work you want to get done needs to be paid by a price. Without Rohit around, she started feeling vulnerable with every pair of eyes stared at like hungry animals who wanted to hunt her and relish her. The city of dreams and beautiful colours of life had its darker sides. And Shikha saw it more and more.
Her job and passion for many other things eventually went down the drain. Her job started sucking with new boss and staff that she could not persist any longer. All these were affecting her family life. Her daughters were growing up and were shifted to the best boarding school in Dehradun. Karan was promoted to higher rankings and that made his travelling hectic. They both hardly spent a few days together in a month.
With all these, Shikha started slipping into depression. She even started taking sleeping pills and anti-depressants. Rohit tried to talk to her many-a-times but she started to shut herself down from him. After all, she had shut that door herself. How could she now knock on it again?
Rohit came to know about Shikha more from Pari who was his sole contact to get updates about Shikha. One fine day, Pari visited Shikha and saw what the mess she was in.
“You should talk to him. He is the one who has always been there for you.” Pari said as she knew that Rohit was the only one who could pull Shikha back to life.
“You know I can’t. And we are not talking anything more on this topic.” Shikha gulped down her drink in one go. She had now been just a step away from being an alcoholic.
Pari chose to stay quiet. She knew that Shikha was not in a state to understand and there was no point in arguing with her at that moment. Pari left that night and the next day she called Rohit and told him everything.
“I have a plan.” Something clicked in his mind while he was talking with Pari. They ponder over it and finally agreed to it.
“You think it will work?” Pari was a bit skeptical.
“It will. I will make it work. It’s for her and so, I’ll do anything to get it worked.” Rohit was desperate.
“I am worried for her, Rohit. I don’t wanna lose her. She is in a very fragile state.” Pari’s words were shaking. This was for the first time, Rohit had seen the weaker side of her.
“Don’t worry. We ‘re not gonna lose her. She will be back, we’ll bring her back.” Rohit replied assuring Pari that he’d do anything for Shikha.
“You love the world for her. Till today, she has never left your heart though she left the town.” Pari knew how deeply Rohit loved Shikha. Despite how things had been between them, Rohit’s feelings stayed the way they were.
“I always do. And it doesn’t matter if I am there with her or not but I’ll always be there for her.” Rohit smiled and ended the call.
After a couple of months passed, Rohit’s plan was already in motion. He called Pari and gave a green signal for the plan to set in action.
As decided, Pari went to see Shikha. She was more lost than the last time. Karan, as usual, was out of the town and the girls were at the hostel, working hard for the final exams.
“Pack your bags, we are going out.” Pari said as she walked into Shikha’s house. Shikha was still in her nightgown.
“What? And where are we going?” Shikha still had a bad hangover from last night’s drinks.
“You still stink of vodka. Get into the shower first, I’ll do the rest.” Pari pushed Shikha in the shower and closed the door. She then got busy packing Shikha’s luggage including clothes for a couple of days. Pari had already talked with Karan and sought his permission. Karan had no issue when Pari was with Shikha.
Shikha came out of the shower. A cup of steaming hot coffee lay waiting for on the table in front of her.
“Finish it first, we are getting late.” Pari took the last sip of her coffee and walked into the kitchen.
“But where are we going?” Shikha was still trying to get hold of her senses.
“We are going on holiday. And before you ask about Karan, I have already talked with him and he is fine. So now, get your lazy ass up and let’s get moving.” Pari took the cup of coffee that Shikha just drained and kept in the kitchen. They got into the car and Pari buckled up the seat belt.
“Ready darlin?” Pari winked as she pressed hard down on the pedal and they rolled on to a joy ride. All the way, Shikha tried to ask a couple of times but Pari didn’t respond.
Shikha leaned back in her seat and closed her eyes. The memories of time spent with Rohit started playing in her mind. The day when they met for the first time till she saw the Rohit last time when he visited her in Mumbai. Her closed eyes turned moist and beads of tears lining up her eyelashes. Pari saw it stealing glances sideways but didn’t say anything. She knew that Shikha was reminiscing the sweet memories of her life.
Moments later as if under a sleep spell, Shikha began to snore and she slept like a log. Pari kept driving. She didn’t bother to stop as that might wake up Shikha. She needed a peaceful sleep. In fact, it was much needed for her. Pari saw the location pin in her inbox and turned on GPS once they were in Goa.
“Where are we?” Shikha woke up as the car slowed down, entering the parking lot of the beach resort.
“Goa…” Pari stretched her hands and taking a deep breath of the Goan air.
“What? Are you kidding me? For how long had I been sleeping?” Shikha was shocked. She had slept for more than ten hours at a stretch.
“Do you think I am in a mood to answer your questions? Now get out and let’s go to our villa. I am badly in need of a shower and some beer.” Pari stepped out of the car and lit her smoke. The bellboy took their luggage and shifted it to their villa.
They took a shower and had a quick lunch. It was still noon. Pari was fidgeting with her cell, waiting for a text. Her much-awaited beep sound buzzed and she smiled. They walked to the private beach of the resort and sat on the beach chair. It was still cold and the sun was not in a mood to bother them with its heat and had called his friends the clouds to make a pleasant day for them to remember.
“Why are we here?” Shikha asked with a heavy sigh. Even the beautiful view of a beach from the shack was not soothing for her tired eyes and tormented mind.
“Cause I can’t see you like this…” A voice came from behind her. Pari smiled without looking back.
Shikha didn’t turn to look back. She knew whose voice it was. Tears started rolling down her eyes and she covered her face behind her palms.
Rohit sat in front of her and held her wrist to see the most beautiful face of his life.
“Okay, I think I should take a small walk.” Saying so, Pari walked away.
Words are very hollow and deceitful to describe what Rohit and Shikha felt. After so long, they talked and talked for hours together. Shikha finally hugged him tightly and cried her heart out. Pari came back and they walked back to their villa.
“I have a dinner surprise. Don’t be late girls. And Pari…” Rohit paused and hugged her tightly.
“Thanks a bunch for bringing her. I will never be able to thank you enough for this.” He kissed her forehead softly and walked to his Villa. Shikha’s questions were answered by Pari in their Villa that evening before dinner surprise.
“He loves you a lot Shikha and very few people would have been lucky to have a person like Rohit in their life. Don’t let it go to waste. You have nothing to compromise here, everything will be intact for you and you know that.” Pari said and they moved out of their villa at the beach where Rohit had made special arrangements for the dinner.
“Sign these.” Rohit gave a file to Shikha. Pari was enjoying all this.
“What’s this?” Shikha’s ability to comprehend anything had exhausted.
“Sign it first.” Rohit gave a pen and held her hand to make her sign.
“It’s your publication house. You are the owner now and I am a small stakeholder in it.” Rohit smiled and kissed the back of her hand. Shikha’s emotions were pumped up. She had been at the end of the rope before meeting Rohit again and now she was on cloud no 9 and tears started rolling down her cheeks.
“I thought that I had lost you…” Shikha spoke in broken words.
“We are TOGETHER… FOREVER… Remember” Rohit smiled…
Written by: Hemang
Sketch: Paranj Sankdecha