The shores of the Arabian Sea started cooling down as the New Year 2014 was getting near in Mumbai. The relinquished solar heat occupied the usual Mumbaiya public with holidays and parties. The streets of Lokhandwala were
filled with auto-rickshaws, buses and so many people scattering randomly in the evening like commotion of ants at a sudden disturbance in the ground. In such noise and crowd, no one noticed how Sonia had felt that afternoon.
Sonia! Sonia Rai had been living with her family in Mumbai since her Dad had to transfer for his job from Nagpur to Lokhandwala as Sonia turned 15. The city had
transformed her totally from emotions to looks. Her way of dressing, her way of talking, everything started looking urban. Well, isn’t that what every Mumbai girl
based movie tells about? She made a lot of friends in high school. She looked prettier with all the braces gone and the weight loss after high school. Her explorations of the city with her new friends filled her Facebook profile entirely.
Hormones came across perfectly normal carrying the dreams of being an aspiring and successful person in the future with parties, money and happiness. Of course,
what else does a person want?
It’s like those villains who are pure evil or heroes who are pure good; these people believe in something and follow it their whole life. It’s always scary if someone flips out of his/her beliefs in real life. What did Sonia believe in?
Well, she, as most of others like her, believed in everything precise. Isn’t that the coolest and at the same time strange quality of mankind? Sonia had planned everything about her future, about her likes and dislikes and also things she is supposed to like. Like rainbow or a bunch of little puppies or whatever. Sonia ‘instagram’ed most of her moments. There wasn’t much thought put on picturing
those moments. She was never really fond of the idea to date someone, or ask anyone out for a cup of coffee. That doesn’t mean she wasn’t asked out. Boys did find her cute, cuter than most of the other girls in college. She just didn’t believe in relationships, not because she had a dark past or something, but just because they asked too much of her comfort, too much of her input and somehow she knew that she wasn’t that kind of girl, until the third year of her college came.
Sonia was an undergraduate at St Paul’s Institute of Communication Education located in Bandra where she met Nikhil Rao. They had been class mates together
since the first year. Their friendship contained just a ‘Hi’ wave for two years. It all started in the third year in one of the intra-network systems that were built for general debates and conferences for alumni’s and guests. It was a regular discussion and the topic of the day was ‘How much do print journalism and digital journalism vary with respect to the topic/incident taking place?’ on which Nikhil
had made some remarkable distinctions that consisted various parameters that media might outlook. This impressed everyone including Sonia. After then, Sonia
felt a little urge to know him more by being friends with him. Their relationship started after three months that was almost three years ago to present day. It didn’t surprise Sonia that she could have such feelings for someone too. Sonia felt a particular comfort that only Nikhil could give her, and due to that Sonia liked him more than she thought she would have liked him at the start of their relationship.
After that, they went everywhere together. They became one of the famous couples of college. Two good looking, smart, popular riches get an influence in their relationship of others too. Sonia felt different because this wasn’t planned.
She did fall in love with Nikhil. She admired Nikhil, took care of him, bought gifts and made surprise birthday plans for him. The two years in college went perfect
for her. Of course, there were little fights on like reaching late to the restaurant, not picking up calls sometimes, but it never bothered Sonia’s intimate feeling for Nikhil. ’Stuff like this happens. We are not perfect, but we can work hard together to solve problems’, she would say, and Nikhil would reply, ’See, this is why I’d never let you go’, and they would smile. Isn’t that sweet?
The present day of Lokhandwala had a different Sonia. She felt disturbed, like when a topper in school fails first time in college. She came back home Fingers Crossed, a restaurant they often went to whenever Nikhil came back to
Mumbai in holidays. She locked the door of her room and sobbing through fast breaths, she lied down on the bed dumping her face in the pillow. There was a low
pitch sound of her crying, as her voice was getting absorbed in the pillows. After a few minutes, she turned around facing up and just stared at the ceiling, until she
Next day she woke up early, but didn’t get out of the bed until her mother came in
‘Just because it’s a holiday, doesn’t mean you can sleeping in like a child?’
‘Yeah, I slept late last night. I had to complete some assignment urgently.’
‘Why? It’s a holiday. They don’t let up even on a holiday. Sometimes break is important for people you know.’
Sonia got up from her bed, freshened herself. She didn’t feel like talking to anyone, so she locked the door of her room from inside. Isn’t that sad?
She sat before her laptop, and started random Facebooking. She checked random posts, funny posts which she didn’t find funny much, just little puffs of breaths at
puns in short videos posted by her FB friends. She couldn’t resist the feeling to check Nikhil’s profile, as if she would find something sad posted by him after the
previous day’s afternoon, but she didn’t. She established a false hope just to see anything weird in Nikhil’s activity since the previous day. She started to try to
make sense to everything that happened. She recollected the whole conversation; she read the recent WhatsApp chats, she saw all the recent pics of them.
The previous day, she reached Fingers Cross at 3pm, and waited for Nikhil. They had promised to meet each other on that time. They were meeting each other after 3 months, as Nikhil had gone to Delhi for his job after college, where he lived in a rented apartment with two of his colleagues, it was a whole new life for him.
He had gotten a new hairstyle, beard, all with sweaters and kurtas (Delhi look). He came back to Mumbai every 3-4 months, as it was just a start of his jobs, so there
were mainly print assignments, and not much of field trips and real media. Nikhil had to meet every one of his relatives whenever he was in Mumbai, as his mom
thought that was a way to keep in touch with family, and that ‘It was a way to says that you care about them.’
Nikhil arrived at Fingers Cross at 4pm.
‘I thought Delhi runs at the same time as Mumbai’, Sonia said at the very moment
Nikhil sat before her.
‘Now don’t get started on this. I’m irritated already after meeting each and every member of my family every time I come home. I mean, what is it? Some family DNA proof?’
‘I know. I know. I have heard this statement like every time we have met after you’ve moved to Delhi. I’m really bored with this’, she said and then looked to the
bus that passed by the street outside through the transparent glasses of the window.
‘You know I can’t do anything about it. It’s something I have to do. Also, I don’t think it’s really that a big issue to worry about’, Nikhil tried to ease her and took her hands in his. Sonia took hers away, ‘Not a big issue? Nikhil, I have workload of shit too, but I did come on time so that
we could have a great time after so long. I have put things aside for you, and I am sorry, but I don’t see you putting an effort to do the same, and you know this is not the first time.’
Nikhil realized she wasn’t just talking about coming late. He took a deep sigh and said, ‘What did you expect then? Long distance relationships are like this. You’d have to have patience for taking things further, and we have, haven’t we?’
‘We have what?’
‘Worked out things, managed to talk to each other at least once every day’, Nikhil said. ‘You don’t see it. You never saw the problem, and I thought there’s always a
solution to anything’, Sonia said with a wrinkled forehead.
‘There is, and we are working on it. Now, would you please order something? I’m really hungry.’
‘You are doing it again.’
‘Just taking things as they are, taking me as I am, not doing anything about it, and I’m really tired of this.’
‘What the hell do you want me to do?’
‘Change things. Look around, and don’t give me those expressions that say it’s being okay for you to see me like this, because I’m expected to be. I’m not like
‘Well, I wasn’t like this either. Listen, I’m sorry that I came late today. I was stuck somewhere.’
Nikhil gave her a look that said ‘You know. Family.’
‘See, first we meet after so long, and now, it doesn’t even seem that you bother about us meeting after so long. You don’t even realize how much time we should
actually spend when we are in the same city. Do you?’
Nikhil took a pause.
‘Have I changed you?’ Nikhil asked.
‘You have compelled me to be someone I hated once.’
‘I’m doing everything I can’, Nikhil shouted loudly.
‘You’re not’, Sonia replied with the same volume.
A silence prevailed for 20-30 seconds.
‘I think we should take a break or break up maybe, because this I think, will never be resolved’, Nikhil said in a calm and with a convincing tone.
‘Why are you running away from this? You are such a coward. I never thought you’d be backing away.’
‘What do you want? You want me to console you? All I have done is try to give you space as much as you want. I never expected anything from you, and now in turn,
you’re telling me this, that I’m intentionally doing all this?’
Nikhil banged the table loudly and, rushed off out of the restaurant as fast as he could. Sonia just kept staring at the glass of water in front of her.
As the end of present day’s evening came, Sonia read all their chats, and kept on thinking how different she had become over these years. How much vulnerable she has become. She didn’t know how to feel. It was more like she was figuring out how to feel. She never felt dependent on Nikhil, but now there was a part in her that wanted to be.
She got annoyed when she found all the gifts by Nikhil in her drawer. She remembered those nights when they made love, kissed, had sex. She realized how pathetic Nikhil had made her, how weak Nikhil had made her, how the Bollywood thought of ‘can’t live without you’ had affected her. Thinking again and again the same thing, she lied on her bed, shut off the lights, and started mumbling words
Maybe I should write a diary or something. Maybe that will give me a little perspective. Or listen to songs or watch a movie. Maybe I should do some of the story write
up and finish it before the New Year’s, who knows that’ll cheer me up. Or I should
just sleep, isn’t that what a strong person would do; just let it go immediately?
God! Fuck you Nikhil. No, I shouldn’t say that.
Next day she woke up late in the morning. As she brushed her teeth, she stared at herself in the mirror, and felt guilt in her head. She realized how unconscious assumptions and decisions she might take in future. She felt aching in her
stomach, like something was eating inside her. She was missing Nikhil. She was missing her the version of herself with Nikhil. She couldn’t resist herself to text him and just ask him if he is still angry with her. Again, to be reasonable, she started recollecting all the memories,
and how logically it would be just to give her a slighter chance to actually text him. I haven’t felt good after that day. I’m sorry for my behavior. Can we meet? Same
She made herself to fall in love with him again. Those false hopes like before.
She consoled herself that it was totally okay. It was okay if he reached late to have coffee with her, if he doesn’t do much for her as much as she does for him, if he has to meet his family every time he comes, if he doesn’t do enough about the problems that he can’t realize. She thought it could happen to anyone, but as long
as love was there, it was okay. She felt a weight on her shoulders getting pulled off.
It was 4pm and he hadn’t replied.
She willed herself to not check her phone to see if he had replied. It has 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?
Don’t be sorry. See, I told you that things are solvable. I’m glad you understood my problem, and will support me through this. Don’t worry; we’ll always be like this.
We are unbreakable. I’ll come to pick you up in an hour. Love.
She felt rage in her head, something tickling her spine. She hadn’t felt this anger in last three days, but now, she couldn’t control herself. She banged her phone on
the floor that cracked the front screen. She looked at the broken phone on the floor, rushed back inside her room and locked the door.