In the middle of the flight, Kiara woke up to go to the washroom.When she returned, she was too lazy to push her way into the middle seat. And with Rishaan readily offering to shift seats, the seating arrangement changed.With 20 minutes remaining for the flight to land, sleep starved Kiara took another power nap, this time holding Rishaan’s hand more firmly. Rishaan’s right hand, though nervously moved to touch Diya’s.Her heart skipped a beat. Diya pulled her hand away. But a defiant Rishaan held her wrist again, this time, more firmly and more reassuringly. The changing behavioral dynamics between the three perhaps gave out a foreboding of what was to come in Goa.
When the flight landed at the Dabolim airport, Rishaan (or Rishav as called by his friends) felt uncanny. His excitement seemed replaced by an unnatural unknown fear that he found very difficult to decipher.
Several million flashes of scenes wafted through his mind when he had taken a small nap past the tedious jet lag. These were the same scenes that had been inflicting searing pain in him since the past few years, and they are now stronger than ever. Although he recollected no memories whatsoever of having visited Goa, it seemed eerily familiar. He instantly vanquished the thoughts by admonishing them as a mere consequence of days of sleepless nights.
Nevertheless, Goa was not just a place he was visiting to participate in a theological seminar on the Relics of Goa’ by the renowned Ashwin Sanghi, Author of best selling theological thrillers that had the three young minds from Hyderabad Central University(HCU) pondering over various questions unanswered. This would be an opportunity for them to be a step closer in their quest to seek answers.
They had allowed themselves a day of local sightseeing to relish the exquisite beauty of Goa, which is unparalleled, and they instantly fell in love with the city. While Rishav and Kiara were sweethearts from their undergrad, Diya joined HCU from the Jawaharlal Nehru University. Razor sharp-witted, jovial and extremely lively, she had been the heart-throb of HCU ever since the first day. Rishav was an academic genius from school days and had excelled throughout his academic course. Kiara enrolled in the State College of Arts only due to the nagging of her over-accomplished parents. Her parents were top-ranked lawyers in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Diya was pretty and charming and hoped to be a fashion designer someday, but her hopes drowned in vain. Her parents considered it a disgraceful occupation and abstained her from pursuing it. But Diya was still in search of an opportunity and continued her part-time job of an amateur designer alongside her studies. It was in the UP State University that she met Rishav, and they fell in love instantly.
She was nowhere interested in continuing her post-grad, if not for the fact that she couldn’t bear staying away from Rishav. She loved him dearly and could do anything for him. Little did she know that a new place would bring about a myriad of changes. Little did she know that the academic genius was not quite comfortable with the fact that she had taken the relationship way too seriously. Little did she know that Rishav felt she was no match for him.
Rishav was extremely perplexed by the decision of Kiara joining the same University as him. He wanted things to be over between them in a peaceful manner, and he believed distance would do the trick. Not that he loathed her or something, he just realized she isn’t the one. But he couldn’t gather his guts to go and confront her.He wasn’t happy with her or her lack of understanding of anything that he wishes to share with her. He needed a competent partner. But now that she has, He had to endure her until she realizes! He just couldn’t bring it up. And things had just gotten worse when he found Diya looming like a shadow in the library, and emerged out of nowhere to ask him where she could find assistance to locate certain books. He had offered to help, and in this process, they had become friends and had been out for tea. While both of them shared their rich academic record, they found similar passions in each other. Rishav liked her almost at the first stance, but Diya seemed quite indifferent.
Frequent discussions and meetings between the two continued on various topics, their favorite being ‘Religion’. It baffled them how the ultimate aim of all the religions spoke of one God and still were disparate in their detailing of a rich past. Their belief had just been reinforced by their recent study on Sanghi’s book. Both of them had literally devoured every single word of the book and referred to related texts and concluded that the thriller was, in fact, revealing profound theories. They sought to seek this author in person to know more. This was realized by an opportunity to attend the seminar by Sanghi in Goa.
As they were planning their trip to Goa, Kiara joined them and was exhilarated by the idea of a trip to Goa. She vehemently insisted that she be taken along. She cited reasons that there exists a plethora of fashion designers in Goa, and it could be of great help to her. Rishav had no other option, but to agree as he was still grateful to her.
Goa had seen them split into two groups, Diya and Rishav, and Kiara.While Diya and Rishav were busy exploring the vast historical extravaganza, The St Cathedral, the Church of St Anne at talalimIlhas, the ruins of the church of St Augustine, The Reis Magos Church built on the banks of Mandovi river, the Basilica of Bom Jesus, the St Cajetan Church ,the Church of St Paul, the Church of Mary Immaculate Conception and the Church of St Francis of Assisi, Kiara had made a faint attempt at trying to understand the talks between the other two. But she had failed miserably and sought to roam around the glossy streets of Goa for her Shopping.
Relieved, Rishav sought to utilize his lone time with Diya efficiently. They went to dine at one of the beach sides after which they walked along the beach. Her hair was swaying gracefully in the gentle breeze. As she spoke, he could notice nothing, but her lips. Her eyes were like that of an angel, and she radiated wisdom and knowledge. He was deeply attracted to her and before he knew it, he was holding her by her waist gently. He let her absorb the sudden gesture. She did not release herself; instead, she came closer. She said, ‘I have known you all this while’, and their lips touched and they plunged into a passionate kiss. He kissed her thrice. She motioned him to lift her, and he lifted her and carried her to the beach side and laid her down.
She looked into his eyes, and he said, ‘I think am falling in love.'
‘And I think I have already fallen,' came the reply.
She nestled in his arms like an innocent baby, and he kissed her again all over her face. He ran his hands through her body, and she was soft, slender and beautiful. She came to his ears, and whispered, ‘Let go of her’. He couldn’t tell her how grateful he was to Kiara’s parents for funding him for further studies. Rishav came from a lower middle-class background. His father was the sole breadwinner in a family of five, where Rishav was the eldest. Rishav’s father worked as a peon in the office of Kiara’s father.
He couldn’t tell all this to Diya. He didn’t want her to be burdened. But he immediately sat upright and suggested they head back home as they would otherwise miss the seminar the next day. Reluctantly, Diya got up and walked along.
Back in the cottage that they had rented, Kiara had arranged the table with all the delicious items that she had gotten for Rishav. While in the process of waiting, she had fallen asleep.
When they returned, the lights were off, and Diya suggested they go to her room. Rishav could not do this anymore. Here was the woman he loved and adored, and there was Kiara whom he was grateful to. He had to confront it; he had to clear it before moving ahead. He smiled at her, kissed her on the cheek and told, ‘We have a long way to go, Darling, Rest Now’.
He made her comfortable in her bed and went to his room. He couldn’t sleep that night and that night was rather a long one and tormented him with all the familiar images. Somebody was crying, ‘Satis est, Domine, Satis est!’ It meant, ‘It is enough Lord, It is enough’.
He seemed petite and way too ordinary at the first site. That was until he led the crowd into illusions and delusions and a pyramid of facts and figures .The audience listened with rapt attention, and every single word of his seemed to bring about waves of surprised looks. He was a living and moving epitome of knowledge who spun the words to create magic.
After the session, there was a Q & A with the selected lot, where Diya and Rishav shot up multiple questions that were answered to the utmost. Little did they know that his eyes were frequently stuck to Kiara, who was lost in her fancy world away from the commotion around her.
Was she the one whom he was thinking about?
Kudiya, as she was called, his niece was four years old. A very charming kid who adored her uncle. His sister was married to the famous lawyer, and the couple was aristocratic and orthodox. Sanghi lived under the same roof with his sister and her family. His sister sought to take care of him after the demise of their parents. But his upcoming books that spoke about the underlying aspects of Hinduism had raised a furor in the neighborhood. Clients had reduced in number, and the couple had to tell him to seek a new home. This, he did without much insistence, as he did not want to be a pest all along. But there was one thing he would miss dearly, that was his Kudiya.
After the seminar, an attendee came and called out the trio to a secluded room behind the auditorium. Seated inside was Ashwin Sanghi himself. Diya and Rishav knew no bounds to their happiness. And Ashwin indicated them to sit. He looked at Kiara and asked, ’Kudiya, Do u remember me?’ Kiara suddenly recognized that it was none other than Ashwin Chacha and the duo held each other in warm embrace. A puzzled Diya and Rishav were waiting for an explanation.
The explanation continued until they reached the chambers of Sanghi, who sought to spend more time with his niece. And Diya and Rishav were left alone again.
‘So, When are you telling her, sweetheart?’
‘It’s just a matter of time, Diya. It’s not as easy as you think!’.
‘Why? Don’t you love me enough? Or am I just your mistress to be played along with as you married that rich bitch!’
‘Don’t talk about her that way. Am sorry’.
‘Oh! Now you are getting a soft corner for her after you came to now she has powerful ties.’
‘Diya, It’s not what you think. It’s something else.’
‘You promised me you will, Rishav. Men are such dogs. I should have known the venomous character behind that dirty mask of yours!’.
‘Diya, you are taking this too far. I told you, and I will tell. I really don’t want to lose you. I love you.’
‘You and your sweet talks. Tell her about us and then come to me. Till then I don’t want to look at your face’.
She left without another word. And she never mentioned where she was going. He tried calling her couple of times, but in vain. It was unreachable. He was left there all alone, to ponder over his misdeeds. While he wept for the first time with all his heart, he found solace in the vent out. He sought to bring about a solution. After all, every problem has a solution, and every beginning has an end.
He headed towards the chambers of Sanghi and waited for the return of Kiara. Kiara had told Sanghi all about Rishav and her ardent love towards him. 'I will go and see if he is fine, chacha. And it is high time you come back and live with us’. With a hug, she departed, and her chacha reassured that he and his newly made family will be on their first flight to UP. She was overjoyed by the fact that her family was reuniting. Little did she know that the one she dreamt of was about to shatter into pieces.
She came out and saw a low and withered Rishav.
‘Oh Shona, you have been waiting for me, Aren’t you? Am so sorry I made you wait. Am super delighted, it’s been a great day. We gotta party!!’
Rishav was dumbfounded. He was about to spearhead her happiness into pieces. She was about to lose the most endeared thing in her life. He just didn’t know how to put it.
He ended up quite bluntly.
‘Kiara, I never loved you’.
She seemed immersed in the beachside music that was bamming the floors. She heard it as ‘I love you’ and she came forward to give a peck on his cheek.
He shook her aside. Bewildered, She sat. He was staring directly into her eyes. And he said, ’Kiara, I do not love you. I was mistaken when I told I was in love. I just liked you a lot, but then it hit me quite a while ago that you were not the one. Am ready to confront, but I don’t want to fool you anymore. You are way too good for me’.
Kiara was stunned and shocked, and words ceased to come out. She sat there listening to him. Each word pierced her, and she felt the pain of being stabbed to death. She felt like her life was oozing out. She felt the world go topsy-turvy. She hoped that this was a foregone dream and that she wakes up to find Rishav standing there with a bouquet of flowers. But then it struck her, It was true. She was a big fool to have been blind to the obvious behavioral changes of Rishav. She had been blind to everything. She didn’t know how to react. She wanted to tell him not to let go of her. She wanted to tell him, She would die without him. She wanted to tell him she has even named their future children. But she just sat there, still as dead.
‘Kiara, Speak Something, Scold me, Talk to me, I know am a sinner. I don’t expect you to forgive. But please promise me you will be okay. I have always cared for you’.
She took an hour to recuperate and after that, she headed back to the apartment. She hadn’t spoken a word since then. She booked the next flight to UP. Rishav received a letter few weeks later.
Thanks for being there with me. You had been a great guide and support to me. I have moved on quite well and have developed an interest in the elements of design prevailing in ancient India, which I am researching under my uncle. I forgive you, and it wasn’t solely your mistake. I wonder how hard it must have been for you all those years in Post-Grad.
Wish you all the best. Hope you have a bright future.
He read the letter a number of times. And then folded it carefully and placed it in the bottom most drawer. Kiara was to be one of the most renowned persons of their time in the future, and they were meant to meet again on the dusty roads of Stockholm, Years later.
As of Dec 23, 2015, He lay with his beloved Diya nestled in their apartment in Bombay reading the recent interview of Kiara Singh. He couldn’t sleep. The images were flooding his brain, and they have become even clearer.
He needed help. He knew who could help him.