Read a tale of endurance, will & a daring fight against Covid. Click here for "The Stalwarts" by Soni Shalini.
Read a tale of endurance, will & a daring fight against Covid. Click here for "The Stalwarts" by Soni Shalini.

Jaishree Laxmikant



Jaishree Laxmikant




12 mins

Sachi walked into the kitchen, got a cup of coffee, took her diary and headed to the balcony. Rishabh and Sachi lived in Pune. They were together since college. Both were the best of friends, always hanging out together, be it the library or the canteen, playing pranks on their friends or making notes for their projects, they were just inseparable. They shared common interests such as reading, camping, clubbing etc.

She started browsing through her diary and stopped at a page dated November 2012. She had written, “This will be the most memorable trip of my life. Not because Jaisalmer is such a beautiful place but because this place gave me the biggest gift of my life. In the tranquility of the night, under the glistening stars, Rishabh came and sat across me; looked into my eyes and said ‘I love you’. I was caught unaware and I just hugged him and both of us held each other for a few minutes.

Sachi’s diary was full of all the camping trips with Rishabh, the parties, the movies and everything that she had shared with Rishabh. Moving on to another page, she started reading about the New Year’s Eve party. “It was New Year’s Eve yesterday and we were invited by Mahesh and his fiancé to their party. There was a lot of music, good food, cocktails and we had loads of fun. We danced our hearts out and were totally weary. At the strike of 12, Rishabh just pulled me in his arms and kissed me. It was a very giddy feeling, which I didn’t want to end. But of course, we were at a party, so it had to end. That is my lovely Rishabh, passionate yet kind and considerate’.

She recalled their camping trip in Jaisalmer in Nov. 2011 and moved on to that page. ‘Rishabh had insisted that we go back to Jaisalmer again. Though I was keen on going elsewhere but Rishabh didn’t budge. On the 2nd day of our camping, after our sightseeing and camel safari was over, I went to bed. After some time, Rishabh woke me up. He got me off the bed and picked me up and took me out of the tent. It was a full moon night, absolutely silent and peaceful. Rishabh put me down and took out a ring from his pocket. He went down on his knees and said “Please marry me. I want to spend the rest of my life with you, want you by my side, when I sleep at night and get up in the morning, I want to live my entire life with you, laugh, cry and grow old with you. I can’t imagine a life without you’. It was exactly a year back that our relationship had started, at the same place and now he had proposed marriage. “

Suddenly one day, Rishabh told Sachi that he wanted to go to the UK for a Masters degree, for a period of two years. But she supported him wholeheartedly, was most encouraging and enthusiastic about this. Both of them agreed that two years should not be difficult to pass. He would be back as soon as his Masters got over.

Initially, they found it very difficult to handle the separation. Due to time zone differences, assignment pressures, deadlines, talking every day was impossible. But they always encouraged one other. Things started getting worrisome only when Sachi’s parents started insisting on her marriage. They were aware of her relationship with Rishabh. But with him being in the UK for more than 2 years, they started raising their doubts.

Sachi was really worried about this. There was not enough communication between her and Rishabh. There were video calls, there was Whatsapp, there were emails, but it was not like meeting personally. How could one hug each other on a video call? How could one hold hands over Whatsapp? You could just look into each other’s eyes and understand or convey a message, without even saying a word. How could that be possible over emails and voice calls? No amount of technology could replace the pleasure of the physical presence.

Rishabh had changed his mind and decided to stay on for another 2 years and gain some work experience. But Sachi’s parents wanted her to end her relationship with Rishabh and get married to Samarth, who was their family friends’ son.

Samarth was Sachi’s childhood friend. Their parents were very good friends and both the families were always together for all the major occasions. Samarth’s parents loved Sachi like their own daughter and were more than willing to have her as their daughter-in-law. Samarth was a very good natured, educated, reserved kind of guy. For years, unknowingly, he had been in love with Sachi. The realization struck him when Rishabh proposed marriage to Sachi. But, Samarth never confessed about his love to Sachi and he was genuinely happy for Sachi. When Rishabh had moved to the UK, Samarth was a constant support to Sachi. There would be times when her calls to Rishabh were not answered and no messages received too. Then there would be an immense amount of panic about the safety of Rishabh or insecurity about no longer being important in his life. She would sometimes voice her concerns to Samarth too and he would always try to encourage her to be strong.

Sachi’s parents were almost convinced that Rishabh was never going to return to Pune. At times, Sachi would also wonder about this. Rishabh was drifting away from her, emotionally and mentally. There were times when Sachi wanted to talk to Rishabh about issues at home. She would immediately pick up the phone to call Rishabh. Only to realize that this was the time he slept. There were birthdays, festivals, countless moments of joy and despair where the absence of each other would lead to extreme frustration and helplessness. Rishabh would want to speak with Sachi for hours over the weekend, but Sachi had only a Sunday to spare. This meant a call for just a few minutes. Occasionally there would be network issues, and by the time they would get sorted out, it would be time for Sachi to go to work. They often felt that it would be so much simpler to live in the same city. Meet or at least talk every day for a few minutes, without fail.

Sachi’s parents gave her an ultimatum of 3 months. If Rishabh met them personally within that period, they would think about the relationship. If not, then she was to get engaged to Samarth. Over the past few calls, this was the main topic of conversation and the cause of many arguments between Sachi and Rishabh. She had insisted that he come down once, meet her parents and reassure them. Sachi had written a detailed email to Rishabh about this and even sent him messages and reminders on Whatsapp.

She willed herself to not check her phone to see if he had replied. It had been about three days now. She hated that she was constantly checking his 'last seen at' status and yes, he had logged in just five minutes ago. Yet she couldn't stop herself. This sinking feeling to find absolutely no communication from him was becoming unbearable, almost torturous. And then, just as she sat down in her chair, her phone vibrated. With her heart thudding in her ear, she unlocked her phone and stared at the screen. Finally! It was his message. But when she opened it and read it, she nearly stopped breathing. She didn't know if he was joking or not. What was this?

The reply she had received was the end of it all. Rishabh had wanted to grow old with her, spend every minute of his life with her. But just now she had received a message from him saying, ‘I cannot come back soon. It’s over.’ There were many questions in her mind, which nobody could answer except Rishabh. Was it so easy for him to end this relationship? Did this relationship ever matter to him? She just cried silently for him.

2 years of separation had cost them their relationship. Sachi took out her diary and wrote the words “The End’ in it and closed it. She would never write anything in this diary again. This diary was started with the start of a relationship and now had ended with it. There was nothing more to write in it. She had accepted Rishabh’s decision without countering it because it would be useless to try to convince him or even her parents.

Sachi told her parents about Rishabh’s decision. They were upset initially but tried to convince her that finally there was some clarity in her life. She could start her life afresh with Samarth. Over the next few days, the engagement date was fixed. Both the families were enthralled at this. But Samarth knew that Sachi was not happy about all this. But she maintained that she was fine and in due course of time would be back to her normal self.

Rishabh was trying to convince himself that he had taken a decision that was best for both. He had chosen career over his love because that was what seemed right for him. He couldn’t make Sachi wait for years together. Though he couldn’t imagine a life without her, he had to give consideration to his career too. They had been miles apart but there was always a phone call, a message or a video call, to look forward to. And now, after the end of the relationship, everything had ended. It seemed to him that life had come to a standstill.

Sachi and Samarth got engaged in a simple ceremony, with just the immediate relatives being present. Samarth was elated at this though he did understand Sachi’s state of mind. But he was confident of bringing back the smile on Sachi’s face.

Since the marriage was to be held in 6 months’ time, there were endless preparations to be done. Samarth was extremely caring and patient with Sachi. He just loved her too much to cause her any pain physically or mentally. One evening when he was returning from work, he received a call stating that Sachi had met with an accident. The driver of an over speeding car had rammed into Sachi’s car. The impact of the accident was severe and Sachi had suffered a head injury. She was rushed to the hospital and taken into the ICU. Preliminary investigations had revealed that because of the impact of the collision, she had suffered some brain injury which had left her in a comatose state. The doctors were not sure when she would regain consciousness.

Samarth was distressed looking at Sachi. He just sat there holding her hand as she lay still, surrounded by machines. Samarth could not bear to see Sachi in this state. He didn’t know whether she would survive this trauma or not. He shuddered at the thought of losing Sachi forever. Unwillingly he sent a message to Rishabh about the accident because he felt maybe that could be one way of getting Sachi out of her coma.

Rishabh froze when he read about this. When he had called off his relationship with Sachi, he believed that she would be happy somewhere, with the love and the life she deserved. But she standing at the threshold of death was devastating for him. Rishabh took the first available flight to India. When Rishabh arrived at the hospital, Samarth guided him to the ICU where Sachi was, though Samarth believed that he didn’t deserve to even look at Sachi for the emotional trauma he had caused her. Rishabh was seeing Sachi after more than 2 years and in such a state. Never in his life had he wanted to hurt Sachi or make her go through any trouble. He had loved her beyond measure and always wanted the best for her. He just quietly held her hand.

Samarth was at the hospital for most of the day. Whenever he was allowed to, he sat near Sachi and talked about their impending wedding, their childhood, hoping that she would open her eyes. In Rishabh’s presence, he just quietly stayed in the waiting area. He could not bear the presence of Rishabh. This was the man who had caused immense grief to his love. Now when he was close to giving her the best of both the worlds, Rishabh had to be summoned in a bid to save Sachi.

Samarth would sometimes wonder if Rishabh still loved Sachi and what if he was ready to give it another chance. Samarth would never want to let go off Sachi but he also knew that Rishabh was her first love and there would be no point holding her back if such a situation arose. This would just mean spoiling three lives.

Rishabh too sat with Sachi at times and spoke to her about the moments they had spent together. Days passed into weeks and though Sachi did show some signs of improvement, she still didn’t open her eyes. Rishabh could not take it anymore and he wanted to return back to the UK. He was almost sure that he won’t be able to listen to his Sachi ever again. Before he went to the UK for his masters, Sachi had gifted a pendant to him with a picture of theirs in it. He still wore the chain. Since he was going back forever, he removed it and put it around Sachi’s neck. For one last time, he held Sachi’s hands and cried. When he had called off their relationship, he did not realize the pain that she would go through, because of this decision. But now he had been made to live that pain of separation, of life without her and he felt that he surely deserved it. He just rose, bid a final goodbye to his love and left.

On his way to the airport, he received a call from Samarth saying that Sachi was conscious now and had opened her eyes. Rishabh rushed to the hospital. He couldn’t believe his eyes to see Sachi fully conscious. They just looked at each other and held their gaze. Rishabh moved further and held Sachi’s hands and said ‘I am sorry. I love you and promise to be with you, always’. Sachi just looked at him and said “I Love you, too’.

Samarth who was witnessing this confession silently slipped out of the room. He realized that this was the best way out for the three of them. There was no point hanging on to Sachi physically when her soul was with Rishabh. He had to let her go if he wanted her to be happy.

Rishabh and Sachi had found their life with each other, once again. Truly, time and distances are no barriers, if two people are destined to be together.

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