The sun burned brightly in front of my eyes, almost blinding me. It's light even overpowered the blue of the sky, turning it stark white for a moment. My body was all locked on to a seat and my feet were unable to sense the ground. Suddenly, the brightness of the sun began to fade back into the blue sky as I felt a strong force pulling me. Wind gushed passed me as the gravity pulled me down with all of its might.
I grabbed the seat as tightly as I could, even hoped to pierce my fingers into it to get an even better grip. Everything around me began to blur out as the velocity graph went on rising with my fall. "I'm gonna die!" I screamed the loudest in my entire life as I shut my eyes close, waiting for all of it to end.
"Wait... No, no. It's not what you think. Oh crap. I should have known this would be misguiding. Alright, nevermind. Let's start again... from some earlier point so that you could understand better. Oh, wait... Stupid me. Where are my Manners? Let me introduce myself first. I'm Mayank. Mayank Chaturvedi. Anyway, back to the story."
I stood in front of lime green painted building as a few school students passed by me. A soft smile sprouted on my lips as I reminisced about my own high school days. They had actually almost ended a week ago when I turned in my last twelfth-grade board exam paper. So, in order to celebrate, I and few of my friends decided to go on an amusement park trip.
I looked at the clock in my phone. 7:19 am. I was eleven minutes early. Probably twelve if I wouldn't have reminisced about the high school days. Either way, it seemed like I was the first one to arrive. I looked at the lime green building. We were supposed to meet at Divya's place and get going from here. "Should I go and wait at her place?" I asked myself in an undertone or else people passing by would've thought I was crazy to mumble to no one.
I kept gazing at the building as I recalled the last time I visited a girl's place early in the morning. "Hope I'm not intruding..." I mumbled with a sigh and walked towards the building. "What was her flat number again?" I took a look at the Residents' List. "Second floor, second flat." I walked upstairs and rechecked the nameplate for her surname just to make sure I don't wake up some grumpy old guy instead.
"This is it I suppose." I knocked on the door.
"Coming." A guy said as he approached and opened the door. The man I presumed to be Divya's Dad greeted me. "Hello, Divya's friend, right? Come in. Have a seat," He invited and then gave Divya a heads-up that I had arrived.
'Okay, why didn't I expect her dad to be the one to open the door. Damn, I wasn't mentally prepared to meet her Dad.' I quietly walked in and took a seat on the couch while her dad sat on the bed in front of me, engrossed in the newspaper. 'Thank you...Newspaper Boy!'
However, as my fate loves to, it turned on me once again as her Mom emerged out from supposedly the kitchen. "Are you from the same high school as Divya's or were you two together in her school?" She asked me as she wiped her hands on a napkin.
"High school" I uttered.
"Oh, that's nice. Sit, she's just packing it all up," She said and returned back to the kitchen.
My eyes shifted to the swing seat which was kept aside in a corner. The last time I had visited this place, it was hanging the center of the room. I added a nice charm to the green walls and the wide window. The flower pots in window simply just actualized the whole nature theme.
After a long moment of wait, Divya walked into the living room. She was wearing a black T-shirt with the word 'Secret' engraved on the front and black cotton jeans. Her curly hair covered the back of her head like the frills of a skirt and looked pretty cute adding to her short height.
"Hey Hi! You are an early bird." She said as she searched for her phone.
"Well, it's a habit." I tried to laugh sheepishly but I remembered there also was a third person in the room.
"A good habit!" her Dad complemented. I... stayed quiet. Meanwhile, Divya probably texted Vidya and placed the phone back on a table beside me. She then handed me over some snacks before she went back to her room. They looked and tasted like 'Shankarpali' but were bigger in size than what my Mom makes.
While I was busy munching on them, my phone rang. I pulled it out from my pocket. 'Avni', the screen read I picked it, "Hi?"
"Hello, hello? Are you already there?" Avni asked.
"I sure am. Where are you?" I replied as I continued to munch on another Shankarpali.
"Oh... I'll just be leaving. Just around in few minutes. I'll be there in just ten, okay. Who else is there?"
"Take your time. It's just me right now. No one else has arrived yet."
"Oh, okay, I'll come as soon as possible. Bye!" she said and disconnected. 'Damn, why is she always so flustered in such situations.' Just then, Divya returned with a tripod stand and her bag.
"Are cameras allowed in there?" Her Dad questioned.
"Of course, they are. People do post their self-made photos and vlogs. Only food items are prohibited." She countered and I swallowed a Shankarpali. 'Wait, if that's the case... then what am I gonna do about the apple Mom gave me? Crap!' Before I could even speak, she went back inside.
Just then her phone rang. Taking a few seconds debating with myself whether or not to pick it up for her, I finally grabbed it. 'Survesh' The screen read. I picked the call, "Hello?"
"Shall I come in?" Survesh said back into the phone and I instinctively turned towards the door. The guy dressed in a white shirt and blue jacket with black cotton jeans walked up right in front of the door.
"Why even bother asking? You've got free calling or something?" I said with a smirk and disconnected the call. Survesh walked in through the open door and sat beside Divya's Dad.
"Good Morning Uncle," he greeted.
"Morning! Done with planning and booking cabs and tickets?" her Dad asked.
"In a way, yes. For the record, I even checked out the rates for the cab and realized that 'DriveMe' is way cheaper than 'OTS' cabs. We'll be at the park at just about the time when it opens," he replied confidently.
"Hi, Survesh... Ready with your gear?" Divya asked as she returned to the living room and packed her water bottles.
"All set and done!" He replied gesturing to his fluffed-up bag.
"No one here is carrying food items, are they?" She asked as a precaution and I was glad she did.
"Um... I do." I pulled out the apple from my bag for the display.
"Eat it here then." She replied.
"Hey, come on. I can't get this whole thing finished. Not with my belly full with the breakfast I had." I indirectly pleaded for some help.
"Take a knife or the apple slicer," her Dad suggested.
"Right, we could eat it whenever we wish to then." Divya went back to the kitchen and returned with apple slicer. Just as she handed it over to me, her phone rang. She picked it up and after a few minutes of long conversation she disconnected. "Vidya's waiting downstairs in the parking."
"Alright then, let's get going." Survesh stood up and I followed him to the door. The three of us walked downstairs. Just as we walked through the parking, I spotted Vidya near the entrance, waiting for us with presumably her Mom. She was wearing a white top with blue jeans and was busy adjusting her camera on the 'gorilla tripod' before she noticed us.
"Hey, hi!" She called out loud in her singsong voice. "Wow! You two got the matching shirts." She pointed towards Survesh's blue jacket and my full sleeve blue T-shirt. Having a tall and skinny body always made it difficult to get clothes of my size. It's something my parents were always annoyed with. So, naturally, I never developed any liking for shopping or getting new clothes. All I had were just a few tailored shirts and pants. Even the T-shirt and the prussian blue pant which I was wearing were the ones which were just the ones hanging on the first hook behind my door.
"Yah, you're right! My jacket matches with his and my pant is similar to Divya's." Survesh pointed towards Divya who was standing near a bike in the parking. We all headed towards her and Survesh opened his bag. Divya placed her tripod stand on the seat of a bike and began checking her camera lenses. As Vidya handed over her gorilla tripod to me, the three began to shuffle through their photography equipment while I simply watched them. 'When they speak photography, I sometimes feel like I'm watching an anime without subtitles.'
"Hey, guys, what's up?" Nitin came from behind and joined us. He gave a hard pat on my back which knocked me off balance. I turned around to give him a look. The macho man of the crew was wearing a grey T-shirt and yet again black cotton jeans similar to Survesh's and Divya's. 'Did someone forget to tell me there was a pant-code or something for the trip? Oh, no, wait...Vidya's wearing a blue one...I'm not alone!'
Just as the photography discussion was over, we turned and Vidya's Mom approached us, seemingly admiring our excitement. Behind her, I spotted Avni finally making an appearance as she took long steps in haste.
Tallest of all girls and obviously shorter than me, she was dressed in blue jeans. 'Another one to join my color!' Her long hair which was usually tied I a single pony were all set free today. She was wearing a grey sleeveless top which had two wide strips of cloth emerging out from both sides of her waist. She had those strips tied in a knot and left hanging by the side of her waist. It reminded me of the girls back from school days. They used to tie our old woolen sweaters just like that by their waist allowing it to hang from behind. 'To think someone would use that thing to design fashion and even earn from that. Seriously, I won't ever understand that art.'
"Shit! So, I am the last one to arrive," She said as soon as she joined in.
"Is anyone else left to arrive?" Vidya's Mom asked as she pulled out her phone.
"Nah, Pratik was going to join but he canceled at the last moment, so it's just us six now," Survesh explained as he saddled his seemingly heavy back on his back.
"Oh, that's unfortunate. Anyway, in that case, since you all are here, let's take a picture of you all," Her Mom suggested. With those words, everyone began to assemble. 'I admit I'm the type who never readily allows getting captured in a photo but... well, what the heck." I too went on with the excitement flow and stood at the back. Good height has its plus-points. Just in time as I adjusted my spectacles a bit, Vidya's Mom captured the beginning moment of the trip.
With that, her Mom left us on our own and we stood all facing each other. Survesh took the honors as the group leader to make the final announcement. "So, with Vidya as our 'model', me and Divya as the 'cameramen' or 'cameraman and camerawoman', Avni the 'shot designer', Manish our 'scriptwriter', and Nitin... err... as our 'on-road guide.' I hereby declare that our vlog project trip is now on!"
"Are we supposed to cheer?" Nitin asked sarcastically "Let's just get rolling already!"
Survesh took a moment to frown but instantly switched back to the leader's role. "Okay then, let's get our cab."
"Should I call one? I already have the OTS app," Avni asked as she pulled out her phone.
"No, use DriveMe, it's cheaper," Survesh suggested.
"Um... I don't have its app."
"Anyone else?" Survesh asked and everyone nodded in negation.
"Well, guess I'll download it. Gimme a minute." I took on the lead and opened the store app.
"Good, till then everyone, hand over your two thousand rupees." All of us began to pull out our cash and handed it to Survesh.
"Here" I handed over a bunch of notes.
"They sum up to two thousand?"
"They should...I guess"
Survesh counted them and recounted them. "Dude, it's a hundred less."
'Guess Mom, made an error in her calculation while handing them over to me.' "Here" I handed over eighty more from the extra cash I was carrying. "That's about all I've got."
"Alright, keep those with you. Pay when we need to hand over the smaller notes."
He continued the collection and recounted the pile. "Okay, how many extra do you guys are left with now.
"Um... I have around five hundred more," Avni declared.
"So do I," Divya added.
"I'm broke, buddy." Nitin announced.
"I think... I should have a few hundred or something, not really sure," Vidya told with a little uncertainty.
"And I have some eight hundred or so. We should be fine with these," Survesh ended.
"Well, we need to sign in," I said as I installed and opened the app.
Survesh took it and signed in through his long forgotten yet existing account. We all walked towards the roadside from the cement floored parking. The street which was overflowing with students a while ago, now looked almost deserted. Only people out were either people heading out to their offices or walking to stores.
Survesh typed the name of the destination and the list of cabs available appeared on the screen, compelling his face to fall. "Everyone, there's a problem."
"Ughh oh... what happened?" Vidya asked instantly.
"It appears that 'DriveMe' has only one cab going there and... it's just a four-seater."