Rohan??15 mins 617 15 mins 617
They had met on social media and in a span of one month, both became the best of the besties. Their passion for writing brought them close to each other. They lived in the same town, spoke over the phone, had video calls but couldn't get a chance to meet each other.
It was a sunny Sunday, Rano called up Ruhani 'Hey, how are you? Any plans for today?'
'No dear, nothing. Let's meet up today. We have never met and it's been a month since we both met over social media' Ruhani said.
'Not a bad idea, let's meet up. I shall WhatsApp my address and you pick me. Let's meet at 2 pm today' Rano said and Ruhani agreed to it. Rano immediately messaged Ruhani and she pinged her back 'OK.. catch you at 2 today, take care.'
Tick tock..tick tock..Rano was eagerly waiting for Ruhani. Half past two, but Ruhani did not arrive, 3 pm...Ruhani still doesn't come. Rano thinks in herself if Ruhani is able to locate her home, so she picks up the phone and calls her.
'Hello Ruhani where are you gal, it's 3 and I am waiting' Rano impatiently spoke.
'Hello, Mam, sorry but there is no Ruhani here, I am Ronny here' she heard a male voice.
'Oops Sorry, I dialled a wrong number' Rano apologised and kept the phone. She checked the number and saw that it was correct. She thought maybe it was a cross connection and dialled again after rechecking the number.
'Hello, who is this?' she again heard a male voice. She enquired 'see my name is Rano and this number belongs to my friend Ruhani. I spoke to her just 4 hours back, so please tell me if she is with you' she asked the person on the other side.
'Mam I think there is some confusion. I am Ronny and I have been using this number past four years. There is no Ruhani living here. Really sorry' he replied and disconnected immediately.
What? How? Rano couldn't understand what was going on. She has been talking with Ruhani on the same number for the past one month and all of a sudden everything turns 180 degrees for her. After all, where is Ruhani? What went wrong with her? She got very tensed and worried.
Her house help saw her face and came running to her with a glass of water 'what happened didi? Why are you so tensed'. Rano narrated her the entire story.
'I will have to search Ruhani, I can't leave it like this. I don't know what went wrong and where is she' she said her househelp.
'But didi how shall you look for her in this condition?'
Rano was a physically challenged person. An accident left her paralysed 15 years ago with major spinal injuries. With regular therapies and treatment, she could now walk with the help of stick but not to a great extent. Also, she was not allowed to stand for long or sit for long. She could do her daily chores herself and had kept a house help for support. She stayed with her old parents.
'Whatever it is, but I have to search for her. I can't go to the police. I also don't have her address. I have to really think what to do' she said in a tensed voice.
Where does she start from? What shall be her first step? Where shall she get her full address from? She immediately opened all the social media accounts and looked for Ruhani. No where had she mentioned her location and even her full name was not present. Now what? Rano started tapping her forehead. It has been only a month since she knew Ruhani, but she felt a pain in her heart, the pain of losing her. She was determined to find her no matter what and her physical disabilities won't stop her from doing that.
She started to recollect her conversations with Ruhani. First, she went and made her favourite jaggery tea and then sat down with the cup on her armchair, closed her eyes and started to recollect every bit of their conversation. She went into the flashback.
'Hi, this is Ruhani, I read your posts on your site, an amazing writer you are. Would you like to connect with me as I am also an Aspiring Writer' this was Ruhani's first message to her on Rano's Insta account. From there started their friendship, sharing their stories, taking feedback, participating in contests, and off late they have been discussing authoring a book on suspense and mystery. They hardly spoke about each other's parents, families, interests, it was only writing and books and stories.
'Oh, no..just can't recollect any such incident' Rano tapped her head.
'Wait wait wait..ah! I remember just now, she had once told me that she had worked in Gurgaon for 15 years and left her job 3 years back for her passion to write. Did she mention her Company's name? Let me put pressure on my brain' Rano thought in herself.
She immediately opened her Linkedin account to check Ruhani's professional background.
Gosh, the company name was not there. How could this be? She repeatedly kept looking at her profile in search of a clue. For about half an hour she kept reading and searching for a clue when her eyes got stuck on her profile pic. She could notice a Company's logo at the backside of Ruhani's image. Rano thought 'Either Ruhani worked here or in any office nearby to it'.
'But today is Sunday and the offices are closed, I will have to wait till tomorrow' Rano thought and sat down. That night was very difficult for her. She kept praying for Ruhani and hoped that she is able to get some details and whereabouts from Ruhani's previous employer.
With the dawn of Monday Morning, Rano took her notebook and pen and started to jot down all the numbers of the offices of the location where doubtfully Ruhani worked. There were at least 50 offices that she got the information through the internet. She started to call on every number. Everywhere she was facing the problem of not knowing Ruhani's full name and department. Her back ached, her hands pained, but she was unstoppable. Sometimes she laid on her bed, sometimes in her wheelchair, but she kept calling and probing if in case she hits the bull's eye and she did on her 45th call.
'Sir, can you connect me to Ruhani, I am calling from XYZ bank' this is how Rano was trying to break the ceilings and get information about her.
'There is no Ruhani, you dialled a wrong number' the receptionist answered.
'The one who is an author and writes blogs. She gave the address of this office only' she again repeated.
'Mam, why are you wasting your time, there is no Ruhani, must be a mistake' he replied.
'How can bank people make mistake? See if you don't co-operate then I shall talk to your higher authorities, this is a verification call so you better connect me to her' Rano spoke in an authoritative voice. She was trembling and was very nervous as she was doing this for the first time.
'Oh Mam, you talk to anyone, I don't care, there was a Ruhani Mam three years back but not now. She has left the company' he replied.
'What? She left the company?' Rano kept the phone. She wanted to jump as she has passed the first stage but she knew that this is the first step only.
'Meera I am going out shall be back soon' she called her househelp.
'Didi, it is not safe for you to go alone. The doctor has advised you to be with someone. What shall I reply to uncle and aunty? And why are you so worried about a friend who you met only a month ago?' her maid tried to stop her.
'Meera, don't worry. My legs don't work but my brain does. I will be fine, this is my case, let me go' she said.
Meera quickly packed some food for her and Rano booked a cab. With the name of God, she stepped out of her house. In these 15 years, this was for the first time that she stepped out of her house alone. She could feel her confidence coming back. She was nervous, but her friendship made her strong and above all her will power to be independent again made her strong to find her missing friend. She drove to Ruhani's office and went to the HR department.
'Mam, Ruhani Sharma worked here 3 years back and then she left on medical terms and went back to her home town. After that we are not in touch with her. We have sometimes seen her write-ups on social media. That's it. We don't keep records of ex-employees more than a year old. Those records are sent to our head office in Chennai. It shall take at least a week's time to get her records' the HR said her.
'Oh..it shall take a week's time. It shall be really late, see I told you the story, if you come across any news then please contact me on this number' she handed over her number to the HR and left.
She felt as if she is back to square one. She hardly got any information except for that her full name was Ruhani Sharma and they said that she want back to her home town. Whereas, Rano always believed that Ruhani was a native of Delhi and never ever Ruhani told that she belonged to Kolkata.
Was she missing anything? Was any clue going unseen? Was there anything that Rano was not able to see? She went back home, her back was paining like hell and her legs were also. She just lay on her bed and went to sleep. She could not sleep and the thoughts of Ruhani started to haunt her again. Rano thought 'Ruhani was a well-known writer and used to make friends through social media, she loved writing suspense and mystery stories also. She must be then having more friends on social media.'
Rano forgot all her pain and opened her FB, Insta, Twitter, Linkedin, and started to check for mutual friends and Ruhani's profile. She could track a few and messaged them all if they had recently contacted Ruhani. They all said that they were busy writing anthology for her and last they contacted was Sunday.
'How could she invite others for the anthology? It was a plan of they two only. How could she cheat upon her and never told Rano about this?' Rano was zapped to know that Ruhani had contacted new writers for her anthology. She felt cheated. Both Rano and Ruhani had made up plans to write an anthology having suspense and mysterious stories, and now without Rano's knowledge, Ruhani had included so many other writers. Was this a trap? Was Rano being used by Ruhani just to get ideas? And so Ruhani has disappeared? She does not want to contact Rano anymore as she has stolen all her ideas? Ruhani knew that Rano was physically challenged so she can't do anything, hence she fooled her? All these questions started to circle around her head. She was left puzzled and shocked.
Tears rolled down her cheeks and she sat on her chair. 'I may be physically challenged, but I am not mentally challenged. I will not spare her and will find her. If she rules the social media, so do I. I shall find her and punish her for what she did to me. Let her understand that a physically challenged person has a super smart brain' Rano told herself. She took her laptop and created a new profile with a fake name. She presented herself as a budding writer in search of work. She posted her profile on the social media channels and also sent a friend's invite to Ruhani.
Three days had passed but there was no answer. 'Maybe I overreacted about Ruhani and she is in trouble' Rano thought. She was about to get up from her bed when she heard her message tone. She could not imagine that it was Ruhani's friendship acceptance. She jumped out of joy. She also got a message about the anthology but what was suspicious, was Ruhani's signature. Though the message came from Ruhani's account but had signatures of Juhi. Rano again got confused. She replied back 'hello Mam, thank you for accepting my friendship and giving me a chance to write for your anthology. Since I am a new writer, I would like to meet you and talk to you in person to understand the concept of the book. Also, you know that the internet world is very suspicious, hence to smoothen the bond we should meet, only if you are comfortable'.
'Will she reply back or not? Who is Juhi? Ruhani's pen name or any fraud? Oh God, when shall I be able to crack this suspense?' Rano kept juggling with all these questions in her mind.
She kept checking her phone for Ruhani's message. But the entire day passed away and she did not receive any message. Midnight 12 pm, ting ting..her phone made noise. She checked to see and found Ruhani's message with Juhi's signature 'Hi thanks for the message. Surely we can meet, I am sending you my address, please come over tomorrow evening at 5 pm'.
Finally Rano was about to get hold of Ruhani, Juhi, Ronny..everyone who have made her life hell for the past one week. She could not wait till 5 pm and so drove early. The address that she had got was not very far from home. She booked a cab and drove.
She went to the second floor and rang the doorbell. An old lady opened and asked 'who are you and who do you want to meet?'
'Aunty I want to meet Ruhani, is she there?' asked Rano.
'Yes yes, please come in' and the lady took Rano inside her house. Ruhani's house was full of books, pens, lamps, just like a big author's abode. Everything seemed spooky and suspicious. Her heart was beating fast and her legs were trembling. Somehow she walked inside and sat on the sofa with her legs stretched.
'Hey, who are you? I am Ronny. You came to meet me?' Rano saw a curly haired dark boy standing in front of her.
'No no no..I wanted to meet Ruhani, I told that old lady also' Rano tried to locate her.
Suddenly her phone rang. She picked up and heard 'Mam, I am calling for Ruhani Sharma, that day you came to our office. We got her records and saw that she is from Delhi. Also, she suffered from a dual personality disease. I hope this information helps you'.
What? Dual Personality disease? 'Aunty Aunty' she called.
'Yes dear, I am here, this is not Ronny, this is Ruhani' the old lady replied in a sad voice.
She made the boy sit down. Took out his wig and cleaned his face.
'Oh God! this is Ruhani. What had happened? What went wrong? This all is maddening. Please tell aunty, I request you please' Rano pleaded.
'Ruhani had a deep passion for writing suspense and mystery stories. Sometimes to get a feel of the character, she used to wear that type of clothes and do the required make up. Initially, I ignored, but when years passed, this started to turn into a dual personality disease. Her passion became stronger. Every time she writes a new story, a new character takes birth and she gets into the character so much that she forgets her originality. When she started to work, we started with her treatment but after leaving the job, she was back to writing. Her treatment continues, but for the past one month she has forgotten herself and is in the character of Ronny' the lady started to cry bitterly.
Rano was speechless, she was about to leave when someone called 'hey babes, where are you going? Our coffee date is pending past one month'
Rano turned to see Ruhani standing and calling her. She felt so happy. Ruhani came near her and made her comfortable.
'Finally, I see my daring and brave friend who forgot her disability to find her lost friend. I am such a lucky one' and Ruhani hugged her.
'I am so happy to see you fine and alright' Rano said.
'I have been always fine dear, this whole planning and plotting were done by me so that I and you get a feel of a real story. How was it? I made this keeping you as my story's main character. I hope you loved playing this role and now ready to write it in your own words. This old lady is none other than my granny who is a big suspense story writer' Ruhani disclosed the whole secret to Rano.
'But what about the HR who called me?' Rano asked.
'Oh, that dual personality disease? That was the reason my granny gave at my office so that I get an early relieving' Ruhani laughed and said.
Rano was dumbstruck to hear Ruhani and said 'gonna kill you' and all of them laughed and both hugged each other.