“It’s very boring!” thought Tanvi sitting in her class and looked at Anannya, who sat near the window and gave her the same look. Tanvi automatically smiled at her but unfortunately got spotted by the lecturer. “Who are you smiling at? And why? Did I say something funny?” “No sir!” came the immediate reply from Tanvi as she looked down. “Stop looking at the window! Sit down now!” ordered the professor. “Thank goodness! Anannya didn’t get caught!” thought Tanvi while sitting back as Anannya looked on.
“Extra assignment again?” asked Anannya as she and Tanvi returned to their house. “Yes. Because I was smiling at you!” she said grimly. “Cheer up now! I will make tea for you!” Anannya tried to cheer her and had gone to the kitchen. Tanvi and Anannya had been friends for the past one year. They were classmates and as their friendship grew they took a small house together and lived there. As the whole complex was nearer to many colleges it was unofficially called the ‘students’ complex’. Some of their classmates live in the neighbouring house and became good friends. However, Tanvi and Anannya were best of friends and no one had been able to become that close to either of them“ It’s very delicious!” remarked Shayra, one of the classmates of Tanvi who stayed nearby, when Tanvi had brought her a dish of Kheer that Anannya had prepared for Eid. “I know! It is made by Anannya”,replied Tanvi but Shayra seemed to have not heard that and continued, “ Really Tanvi, you have to teach me how to cook such delicious food!” Tanvi didn’t try to repeat that it wasn’t she who cooked but just smiled. It always happened that way, whenever she tries to explain Anannya’s cooking Shayra seemed to have not heard and Anannya too never accompanies her to Shayra’s house. So Tanvi concluded that it might be that Anannya and Shayra didn’t like each other. In fact Anannya had always been reserved and always tried to avoid others except Tanvi.
Once Tanvi had forced her to Anjali’s birthday party. At first she seemed fine and also drank some soda there but when Tanvi had gone to the kitchen to help Anjali with her party and came back she was nowhere to be found and when Tanvi asked a few people there they didn’t even know that she was there. Tanvi had left the party early and reached home to find her sleeping. From then Tanvi never asked her to socialize. She seemed to be comfortable only with Tanvi and she had left it that way.
The days went smoothly and soon semester-end vacation had begun. Both have decided to return to their homes. Tanvi was the first one to go and Anannya had accompanied her to the railway station. Tanvi had noticed that Anannya seemed to be distracted by some thought and questioned her about it. “Oh, it’s nothing. It’s just that…. I will miss you… just don’t forget me ok? And take care of yourself”, she said and hugged Tanvi. Tanvi was surprised by this. She had never heard anything like this before from Anannya but then she thought that it was the first time after one-and-a-half year that they were going home so they have never been apart for the past few months. “It’s only a month and then I’ll come back. Don’t worry”, she said but she realized then how close they have become to each other. More than friends-like sisters- and she knew she would miss her too. Anannya just smiled but there was sadness in her eyes and Tanvi had got moist eyes as they waved goodbye to each other.
“I’m worried mom”, said Tanvi to her mother. “Don’t worry everything will be alright”, said her mother. The reason about Tanvi’s worry is that it had been two weeks and she hadn’t been able to reach Anannya. The last time she spoke to her was the day she reached home and informed her about it. That day too Anannya sounded off but she just thought it was because she was alone. But now she is worried. She tried to call her but couldn’t find her number in her phone’s contact list! “It must have gotten deleted by mistake”, thought Tanvi. So she tried her Facebook account but Anannya wasn’t there in her ‘friend list’! Tanvi was now stumped. “Did something happen? Did she remove me from her friend list? No, why would she do that? We didn’t fight! Let me search her in Facebook”, thoughts ran in her mind but she couldn’t find her and this only meant one thing-she had deactivated her account! “why would she do that? What made her do that?! Did something happen?” Tanvi had worried enough to make herself sick for the rest of the vacation!
Her mother was taking great care of her, always consoling her saying that everything would be alright and that she should be strong. Tanvi had not always been like this, she was a strong headed person until the accident… an accident she doesn’t remember.
Memories of the hospital came back to Tanvi. She just remembers going to a school trip almost two years ago in her twelfth standard and had wandered into the forest for some adventure and the next thing she knew was that she woke up in a hospital. She had no idea of how she got there. “You had gotten into an accident darling. A car hit you but don’t worry everything’s alright now baby, you’re safe”, her mother explained as they hugged each other. But not everything was alright, something changed that day. Tanvi had never been the same again. She became very sensitive. She started worrying for small things, she would be upset for silliest reasons. She knew that she had changed. She stopped talking to her relatives. She even stopped talking to her favourite uncle. Even though he left the country for business trip, she did not miss him like before. She was in fact relieved.The only people she talked to was her parents.
She had somehow become frightened for petty things. She herself knew it but couldn’t help it. The doctors named it ‘Post-traumatic stress’ and also blamed the heavy blow on her head. They warned her parents that if she wasn’t taken good care of she might lose her mental balance. She knew it all. She knows her parents take great care of her as if she was a fragile piece of glass. She wouldn’t blame them for it but she just couldn’t stand it anymore. The over-affection made her feel like her parents were struggling so she decided that she would study outside and as her parents tried to keep her happy they couldn’t deny it but on condition that she goes to a health check-up every month.
Then she met Anannya and shared her story and they became best friends. Although not totally, she had somewhat returned to normalcy. A year of monthly check-ups had been normal and her parents relaxed. So they decided to stop the monthly check-ups on insistence of Tanvi. Her parents knew that it was Anannya’s influence which made her normal. Although they never met Anannya they heard a lot about her from Tanvi. In fact, they heard only about her. But now the sudden loss of contact from Anannya had brought her weird-self back.
As soon as she recovered she asked her parents to come with her when the college re-opens so that they can help Anannya if she was in trouble. They had agreed and all of them reached her small house in ‘Student’s complex’.
“Hey Shayra! Have you seen Anannya? Didn’t she come yet?” asked Tanvi. “Hey, who are you talking about? Who is Anannya?” asked Shayra looking confused. “Ok! I know you both don’t like each other but you have to help me! She is not in the house and I can’t find her anywhere!” “Hey I really don’t know who this Anannya is! I don’t know what you’re talking about!” “Come on! She is our classmate! And she always prepared specials and you ate them very happily!” “what?! Tanvi are you alright? There is no Anannya in our class and I ate the food you made! I am going now!” said an irritated Shayra and had gone.
An angry Tanvi looked at her parents. They were looking on as the conversation was going on. Tanvi recognised the worry in their eyes. “She just doesn’t like Anannya dad, that’s all! We’ll go to the landlady she might tell us about her and maybe give us her home number.” So they had gone to the landlady. “Who? Anannya? I don’t know any Anannya. What are you talking about?” asked the landlady.
“What?” was the only reaction Tanvi could muster. “But she had been living with my daughter for the past one-and-half-year!” remarked her mother. “Madam, Tanvi had been living upstairs since one-and-half-year and I hadn’t seen any girl visit her, let alone living with her!” said the landlady. “But I never invite anyone to our house because Anannya doesn’t like it!” said Tanvi as she looked at her parents but she immediately recognised the look they had. “You don’t believe me?! I have seen her! She very much exists! Why would I lie to you for so many months?! Fine I will prove that they are all lying! Let’s go to my college even if everyone lies she will be in the attendance register.”
“There is no Anannya in our class Tanvi”, said her class teacher but she disagreed and demanded to show the register. But there was no Anannya even in the register! Now Tanvi started to panic. “What’s happening? Why is everyone lying?!”
She spotted her friend Anjali and stopped birthday party with a friend but couldn’t introduce you because she had gone early?” “Tanvi? What are you talking about? You came alone to the party. You started helping me but then you suddenly left. You didn’t bring anyone”, said Anjali.
By now Tanvi felt a panic attack rising inside her but she didn’t want to be called insane and moreover she wanted to find out if Anannya was alright so she tried controlling herself.
“Sir! You know Anannya, right? We always smiled at each other and you would always spot me and give me extra work as punishment?” “What? Anannya? Tanvi I always see you smiling to yourself looking at the window! That’s the reason I punished you for being absent-minded in my class!” “But sir! I used to smile at Anannya! She always sat beside the window”
“Tanvi no one sits near the window. The bench was never there near the window because the roof above it had been leaking all the time!” Tanvi didn’t wait for her parents and ran to her class and looked near the window. There was indeed no bench there and the roof was really leaking. She couldn’t take it anymore, “I am not insane! I had been with her for almost two years now. How can it be? Anannya…..” Darkness surrounded her as she dropped and fainted before which she heard her mother’s voice, “Tanvi….”…