The pain she felt was strong, almost physical, like a limb had been severed from her body, she screamed in agony. Rachna was next to her holding her, letting her cry again. Dia looked a shadow of herself. She was barely recognizable; swollen eyes, haggard uncombed hair, sunken cheeks. She hadn’t moved out of the room for a month. Every nook and corner, flowers, trees, birds even her own breath reminded her of him. She wanted to shut everyone and everything out. She wanted even her breath to stop. She had lost all concept of time for the past few days. She would sleep in fits and starts for she was scared she would see him in her dreams. Rachna had to force feed her; it broke her heart to see Dia falling apart. Rachna would put up a brave front infront of her, but would shed tears when Dia wasn’t watching.
Dia and Rachna were bossom buddies. They were born only a day apart, their parents had been friends and it was just a natural fall out that they were akin to sisters. They had recently celebrated their eighteenth birthday together. Both were different like chalk and cheese. While Rachna was outgoing and extrovert and made friends easily; Dia was shy, introvert and had very few friends. Dia was sane to Rachna’s rash, she was calm to her storm, and she was patient to her rushed. Even their appearances were different; Rachna was tall with long hair, doe eyed and a dimpled smile. Dia had a short frame, curly hair, big innocent eye; she had calmness on her face akin to the nuns they had in their strict convent school.
Given Rachna’s friendly nature boys easily fell for her charms and Dia was pleasantly amused to see Rachna dismissing their proposals like a queen. She was secretly happy she didn’t have to deal with any of these boys.
However it was in class ten when Dia noticed Rajesh. He had accompanied his friend who wanted to befriend Rachna. Rajesh was already in final year of his college and was too handsome. Many thought him as a perfect match for Rachna, but it was Dia who ended up having a crush on him. She wanted to hide it from Rachna as she was never going to act upon her crush; she planned never to tell anyone. She wanted to keep her feelings to herself but it was impossible to hide anything from Rachna who was quick to notice the change in Dia’s body language as soon as Rajesh approached. Dia would blush instantly, even her ears would turn red, and she would avoid looking at Rajesh, burying her gaze into the ground so deep as if she could see through all those layers.
Rachna was happy. It was first time ever Dia had shown any kind of interest in a boy.
“He’s handsome isn’t he?” Rachna would tease Dia and all Dia could do was blush. Rachna decided to play cupid. She made sure that Rajesh was aware that Dia was totally smitten and infatuated by him. Rajesh on his part dismissed this little crush and laughed it off among his friends. Rachna began searching facts and snippets about Rajesh, as she thought Dia would make a wonderful first impression on Rajesh if she knew little things about him. Her boyfriend, who was a friend of Rajesh, helped her. But what came to fore was rather disturbing. Rajesh was not just a Casanova, with endless girl friends; he was involved in various nefarious activities. His outer persona seemed to be a camouflage for the evil that lay within. He was involved in boot legging and drugs besides being a womanizer. Well Rachna was shocked beyond belief; she did not want her innocent friend to be hurt by him so she told her to stay away in no uncertain terms. “Look Dia, he’s just not the right guy! I’m sad that the first boy you ever had a crush on had to be him. Please don’t nurture any feelings toward him, let all of this pass, please.”
Dia promised not to think of him, but everytime she laid eyes on him, her heart would flutter and her brain seemed to leave her body. His smile, his laughter that reached his eyes made her weak. It had been more than a year since Dia had seen Rajesh and she had settled on remaining away from him, but he was always there in her subconscious mind.
One Sunday afternoon as Dia was sketching and Rachna lay next to her, Dia received a call on her phone.
“Hi! Who is that?”
Rachna sprang up straight, Dia’s heart fell out literally. “Yes?” Her voice was quivering.
“Can we meet?”
“What? You want to meet me! Why?”
“Yeah! I’ve something to tell you.”
“Let’s meet at the Mall tomorrow.”
Rachna looked at Dia, exasperated, “Ok? You said ok? So you are going to meet him?”
“Yes,” Dia sounded so desperate.
“But…” Rachna stopped.
Dia was almost in tears, “just once, please.”
“Ok. Once. Promise?”
Rachna got Dia ready the next day. “Just say no to whatever he says. Please listen to me; please do not forget the sort of person. Just say no. Ok?” Rachna was apprehensive, she knew Dia won’t be able to refuse, she was already madly in love with him, and that’s what happened. Rajesh asked Dia if she was interested in dating him and Dia just couldn’t say no.
What followed was a pattern that Rachna did not appreciate, but Dia was beyond all reasoning. Rajesh would fix a meeting with Dia and forget to show up most of the times and would give a flimsy excuse and Dia would forgive. He would hardly ever pay for the lunches; instead he began borrowing money from Dia. Once he told Dia to buy movie tickets and promised he would reach on time, he didn’t show up and Dia watched the movie all alone. All he told her was that he forgot. Rachna confronted Dia “why do you put up with this?”
“I love him.”
“Does he love you?”
“I don’t care.”
This went on for three years, with Dia’s affection growing strong and Rajesh neither acknowledging nor caring for her in return. He was haughty and remained that way.
One fine day Rajesh called Dia to a restaurant near her college and told her he was marrying a girl he loved and had been seeing for over a year. He told Dia to forget him and move on. “That’s it?” asked Dia, “you have nothing else to say?”
“What more do you want? I lugged you for three years because Rachna’s boyfriend wanted to remove you from her side. I’ve never really liked you. It was a favour to a friend. You are so naïve and stupid; how could you imagine that I would ever have even the remotest interest in you or that I would like you one fine day.”
Dia sat there speechless long after he had left. It was late, almost dinner time when Rachna came to pick her up. She found Dia sitting frozen like a statue, she brought her to her house and Dia hadn’t left since then.
To be continued..