Three Knives and A Love Story
Three Knives and A Love Story14 mins 20.7K 14 mins 20.7K
They say love is the most beautiful feeling ever experienced by one. Is it? But what about the piercing knives under the fancy couch of love? Let me tell you my story...oops, stories!!
The first story starts with me watching a gooey romantic movie. I was 8. Right after that I met the cutest boy in school, Reyansh. And that was it. I knew what I had to do. The hero in the movie had said ‘love is friendship’. So I set out to notch up his friendship.
Yes, we became best friends. But love was far-fetched. Apparently, that strategy hadn’t worked on us. We remained best friends, which over the years turned into mere friendship and gradually vanished through the growing up years.
And then I turned 15. If 16 is sweet and 17 is sexy then 15 should be called the age when romantic wusses are born within us. We have crushes, we discover the word ‘infatuation’, we claim to be in love but then we duck out every time we have an opportunity of confessing our feelings. And why? Because we are stupid. And I was a perfect epitome of that.
I met Vansh, a senior in school, on our Annual Sports day. My cousin Avantika who was his classmate introduced me to him. And I discovered a new emotional state - love at first sight. The next few days in School passed just in vain attempts to catch a glimpse of him with butterflies fluttering in stomach unstoppably. And finally I saw him after a week on the terrace. But there’s a twist to this tale. He was with Avantika. They were so madly lost in sucking each other’s lips that (fortunately) they didn’t notice me. I whisked away. As I sat down on the steps and broke into sobs, I wished I had met Vansh before my vamp sister.
But the story didn’t end there. My life and tragedies have never maintained much distance. Almost a year later, during a family get together Avantika confided in me and her sister that she had dated 5 guys from her class in the penultimate year of high school. She and Vansh had broken up after dating for a month. It seemed, at that moment, hundred 250 watt bulbs had lit up within me. I couldn’t sleep the entire night as those bulbs just refused to dim. Next day, much to my shock, I bumped into Vansh after school. His sea-green eyes lit up seeing me and he flashed a smirk. I was amazed that he recognized me. But all of a sudden, at that moment, all the bulbs turned themselves off in unison. And the images of him kissing Avantika floated before my eyes. I nonchalantly shrugged my shoulders and walked off.
No matter how much it seems kiddish and funny as I reminisce this story from my past, it did singe my heart for a long time. It was the most genuine form of love that a 16 year-old could imagine. Never mind; let’s forget Vansh for now and move on to the next story - the one true love of my life. At least that’s what I thought when I was 19.
I was in the second year of my B.Tech. And second year Engineer kids are like birds who are just freed from a year long confinement. So was the case with me. I had just started spreading my wings when my eyes fell on this mirage called Ankish. But this time I was too self-conscious to even give him a second look. Maybe I had finally matured a little. Or maybe it was the lessons learnt. I guess both are same. Long story short, I had stopped being too filmy and putting all my focus into finding the love of my life. Anyway this time love walked over to me and asked, ‘Can we be friends?’
I could say no. Because it hadn’t come in the guise of a dapper guy with an arresting physique. This time it had a trite appearance with the calmest pair of eyes I’d ever come across. I said yes. And with that the third story started.
However much I tried not to put the walls around me down, he left no stone unturned to find a pothole so he could sneak in. And every wall has a lot of them anyway. Ankish was very patient with me. As if he had come into my life with the sole mission of turning a total stranger into his girlfriend. It was about three months later when he finally popped the question. ‘Do you like me?’
We were sitting in the College canteen. From the tone of his voice, I could sense where the discussion was heading. Honestly, I liked him. His mundaneness was all he needed to beguile an ordinary girl like me. It was all I’d ever wanted in life - an honest heart and a pair of eyes that left a trail of tranquility within me every time they met mine. I nodded. ‘I do. But let’s not rush into something more right now.’
He bobbed his head like an obedient kid. The silence that followed made me a little rueful. But I was relieved as well because that ‘something more’ meant love. And love had started to seem dicey ever since the ‘Vansh’ chapter had closed. But the days and months that followed left me wanting more for myself and putting a name to that ‘more’ is what gave me sleepless nights. Ankish, on the other hand, did not bring up the topic again. And that, inevitably, irked me more.
On my 20th birthday, about 3 more months later, all my friends showed up at my door. Except Ankish. While my ears craved for that one ring of the doorbell, he did not even bother to give me a ring. Friends left my tiny 200 sq ft paying guest apartment 30 minutes before midnight, leaving a heap of empty beer cans, vodka bottles and smashed chunks of dark forest cake on the floor. I heaved a sigh of utter irritation and exhaustion as I hopped five times to reach my bed from the door. Growing up, each one of us realises one thing - birthdays don’t excite us anymore. The moment I sat myself down, the doorbell rang. I muttered at least 10 curse words before I opened the door. I blinked my eyes innumerable times just to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating because of the union of beer and vodka in my head. No, I wasn’t. Ankish entered the room and gave me a light hug. ‘Happy birthday,’ he said and slammed the door behind. I was about to blast him when he leaned forward and placed a soft peck on my cheek. If it wasn’t enough for me to take in, he then grabbed the broom from under the study table and smiled. ‘Let’s clean up the room together. It’ll be fun.’
‘You’ve come here at quarter to Twelve for cleaning up my room?’ I rolled my eyes.
He ignored it and started picking up the cans and plastic glasses from the floor. I joined him and by the time we were done, it was almost 1 AM. As we sat down on the floor leaning against the wall with tiny beads of sweat dripping off our faces, I stared at his tired face and a smile crossed my lips. I knew I could spend the rest of my life gazing at him like that. This triteness attached with him was all I needed to be happy.
‘I love you, Ankish.’ I said and instantly bit my lips in embarrassment.
He had his eyes closed. A relaxed smile adorned his face as he said, ‘I love you too.’
I closed my eyes too and leaned my head back. And like that, hand in hand, we spent the night together.
Two years passed. The first year comprised the feeling of ever-growing love, petty fights and infinite promises to each other. The next one was filled with more serious tiffs, two or three mini break-ups and the ever-growing insecurities born out of love. It was finally time to bid goodbye to college. Ankish got selected by the two most established IT companies in India whereas I was rejected by both. And this fanned the fire of insecurity within me. The trivial fights turned into something so severe that we stopped talking to each other. Break up was on the cards when my parents, one fine day, popped the most unexpected and dreaded question at the breakfast table.
‘We’ve got a good match for you. Why don’t you take a look at his photo?’
It seemed the whole world around me had stopped as the words started floating in my ears. I shot a glare at Mom and Dad one by one and stormed out.
Ankish didn’t show up at College that day. I tried to reach him on the phone but he didn’t answer either. Sitting in the classroom, I clenched my teeth in anger and frustration as silent tears pushed out of my eyes. I spent the whole day waiting for Ankish but he didn’t even bother to respond to the 100 missed calls and 50 text messages that he had received from me. They say the pain of your heart breaking is the most agonizing of all. But mark my words - the ache of the cracks spreading across your heart is what breaks you the most.
I went back home, eyes swollen and cheeks still wet when Mom flashed a picture before my eyes. I rubbed my eyes and took them as near to it as possible. It took me nearly 4 seconds to recognize the face and I jerked back instantly. It was Vansh.
Apparently, the match that Mom and Dad had talked about in the morning was none other than Vansh. I was not in a state to think any further. I dropped onto the sofa, threw my head back and dozed off in less than a minute.
It was the blaring sound of my mobile that woke me up late in the evening. Not caring to look at the caller’s name, I picked it up. The voice at the other end needed no introduction. Ankish said sorry a few times while my mind drifted off to the days when he would pass by my classroom a hundred times just to catch a glimpse of mine.
‘I’ve got a great news to share with you.’ He said just after I had opened my mouth to narrate my tragedy of the day.
‘I’m joining NGI Technologies in two months. It’s going to be a dream come true moment for me.’ He said, sounding ecstatic.
I heaved a sigh.
‘Aren’t you happy?’ His tone changed in a second.
‘My parents are out groom-hunting for me. And I’m apparently going to end up jobless. Nevertheless, I’m happy for you.’ I myself hated the wry tone of my voice. Still the next moment, I hung up on him.
In the blink of an eye, two months passed. I was still jobless. College had ended a month ago. My one true love was getting equipped to move to Bangalore for his dream job. And the most important update - I had met Vansh and his family. He was now an NRI, which made him the most prospective groom in my parents’ eyes. My heart didn’t even stop for a microsecond as he flashed his wonted smirk at me, which would make the 16 year-old me go all mushy-gushy. It was however a tad awkward when we were left alone by our parents. While I kept wondering about how my cousin Avantika would react to it now, Vansh cleared his throat and said, ‘I had a small crush on you in school.’
I shot him the inevitable what-the-fuck look and he added, ‘but unfortunately I was dating your sister then.’
I remained mum. Like I said before, tragedies are my life’s best friends. I swallowed hard.
‘I still like you. In fact a lot more now.’ He added, smiling.
I excused myself and dashed out. Later I got to know from Mom that he had said yes for marriage. Now the universe (in her words) was waiting for me to reciprocate. As per my Dad, I was no good in studies anyway...what was the point in rejecting such a good match? If anybody had cared to listen to my heart, it would say that I still was hoping to spend this life with Ankish.
Ankish called me a day before he was to leave for Bangalore. Our relationship was now like the flickering flame of a candle, about to get blown out. We met at a Cafe in the evening and the first thing he said was - ‘let’s break up.’
The cracks spread out a little more in my heart, ready to get broken into pieces anytime. I swallowed my tears.
‘Long distance is going to break it anyway.’ He added.
‘I’ll move to Bangalore too. Give me some…’
‘Let’s be practical.’
‘When did your dreams get so big that I became such a negligible part of your life?’ I was about to break down.
‘Grow up. Life is not just about love.’ He said tonelessly.
I came back home, fully shattered. And to add to my misery, Mom announced that she had said yes to Vansh’s mother on my behalf.
A week passed. My family was jumping with joy while preparing for Vansh and my engagement ceremony. When I told them about Ankish, they simply shrugged it off saying he was no match for an NRI. I asked them to call the engagement off, to which they showed total ignorance.
So I was left with just one option. I packed my bag and snuck out at the wee hours of night. Ankish’s address was not very difficult to find out. Upon reaching Airport, I rang him. He didn’t answer. When people say love makes you blind, correct them saying it just makes you immune to all the humiliation caused by that one person. Anyway I was still headstrong.
By the time I reached Bangalore, my mobile had been flooded with some 100 missed calls from Mom and Dad. I ignored them all, switched my phone off again and headed to his apartment. An hour later, I was standing right in front of the main door, waiting to give him a tight hug and melt his iron coated heart with my tears. The door opened a minute later and my life changed forever.
6 years have gone by. When I look back on those days, I cry a lot, laugh a little but every time enjoy the flashback throughout. I made plenty of mistakes, so many that I’ve lost count. But I regret none - be it trying to become someone’s best friend to make him fall for me, or being a total wuss when it came to confessing my true feelings for someone or running after an illusion which I’d named love.
I didn’t think I would ever fall in love again. That supposedly ‘true love’ had engulfed me to the core and I honestly believed I would never have that again. But I was just 22 then. Much to my bewilderment, I’m feeling things right now that I haven’t in a long, long time. I am getting married today.
That day as the door opened, a guy came out. He narrowed his eyes and stared at me for a long time. I looked behind him trying to find Ankish. He suddenly closed the door behind, held me by the elbow and dragged me out of the apartment premises. I did nothing, said nothing. I hardly could feel or fathom what was going on. Deep down, maybe, I had already sensed what was coming my way. He took a deep breath and said, ‘Ridhima Bhattacharya, right?’
I nodded. He sighed noisily. ‘Listen to me…’, he said, ‘Ankish doesn’t want to meet you.’
I dropped to the ground with a thump.
He sat down. ‘If it were any other girl, I’d have been least interested...but...’
‘I’m fine.’ I dropped my swollen, watery eyes.
‘You don’t remember me, right? Yes, we weren’t in touch but I’ve been following you on social media for some years now. I never thought we’d meet like this...with you having feelings for my new roommate and me not knowing what to say or do.’
I looked up, shocked and dumbfounded.
‘10 long years, huh?’ He smiled faintly.
‘Reyansh...Reyansh Basu?’ My hands flew to my mouth.
He bobbed his head. ‘Your best friend.’
Tears flooded my eyes instantly. In that faraway city, it seemed all I had was Reyansh. I broke into uncontrollable sobs. All the pain bottled up deep within had started to flow out. Reyansh leaned forward to wipe my tears but they had now turned into howls.
As I screamed, it seemed I was finished. Little did I know that this excruciating pain was going to change me and my life forever. Reyansh helped me find a place and a job there. Issues between me and my parents took time to die out. And miraculously, after meeting Reyansh a year back, they stopped the NRI hunting for me finally. No matter how much we underestimate their thinking, they somehow sense the wind of happiness before us. So here I am today, holding my Mom’s hand nervously yet happily and walking towards my best friend, true love and groom, Reyansh. That filmy logic did work on us, it seems.