The Enchanting Midnight

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The Contemplation For Recovery

CHAPTER 15

The Contemplation For Recovery

It is said that when two souls are made for each other, they share everything they feel, irrespective of whether they are together or not; they can always sense the emotions of their counterpart.

I had experienced it for two years by the time he left, but I hadn’t known that would be the only time when I had known it was possible in reality. He had left, and it seemed he had taken away everything of what I used to be, along with him. It was as if I hadn’t known myself without him ever since I existed.

The days at college seemed weary without him. I was used to being with him everywhere since my first day over there. My 24 hours of each day had his presence blended so much into them, that I did not believe I had to spend even a minute without him.

There was so much that I aspired from myself further. But everything seemed to have come to a standstill without him. I felt clogged with my own thoughts and I did not know what to do. Yet, even in those times, I did not stop writing. It turned into something that soothed me. More because, I did not talk much about it to anyone.

I did not want to be like a sadist, but somehow everything seemed hopeless to me, starting from when he had left. The final year added to the weariness and monotony of the atmosphere. There was not much activity for us any more at college.

The result being: most of my time was spent either at home studying for the prestigious scholarship I aspired for, or with Ratna whenever we went to college. Even she seemed to be lost and tired with everything around us.

It was only with my father, my mother and Timothy, that I felt the same again. That was also a reason why I preferred being at home more often. Some things never change and that applied to my relationship with Timothy.

I spent much of my time like I used to when we had been new in the city; playing basketball, visiting the club with Timothy, watching the people around. Since Ratna had become a part of my small world too, both of us spent the most of our time with my mother and Timothy.

In the initial five months after Aryan had left, I tried to get used to his absence in person. It was a time when I thought he was still there and it was just a matter of some time. He wrote to me as he had said, and those letters were the precious bunch of possessions that I had from him.

It didn’t seem as if anything had changed, apart from the aspect of infrequent communication. I could never write back to him. He had never given me his address for Delhi. It was not permanent, he said.

That was once. Later, I did not feel like asking him on my own. Sometimes, when communication reduces, even those we love seem to be closer to us only by their words, and barriers creep in because of the absence of words and misunderstanding.

And sometimes, the absence of words is also because we do not want to be hurtful, we do not want to lose them, they matter so much to us. I did not understand how, the same silence between us, that had once seemed beautiful, now seemed to be tearing us apart. If it had mattered to him, he would have done something about it.

He used to call in between whenever he could/wanted to. That was the time when we talked mutually. However, it was not the way we had been in Hyderabad. During his first call itself, I felt something very different from the way he used to talk to me.

It was another very monotonous day without him after two months. I had received one letter from him by then, informing me that he was trying to settle over there with the work and opportunities, in a leading news network. There was nothing more that it contained. Nothing at all, in fact.

I was at home that day, after a struggle with my own thoughts for staying back. I had called Ratna to my place. It was going to be another day dedicated to our common assignment and some studies.

I had been wondering about him when he called. I couldn’t stop from being overwhelmed when I heard him say “Hi Mishti”. Those two words in his voice, after what seemed like ages to me, could not stop my tears.

I could not speak a word before I heard him again,” You there?”

“Aryan, how are you?” was all I could ask him, though there was so much more to be asked and told.

“Hey, I am fine. How are you doing? Long time, isn’t it?”

I wondered if he remembered that he was talking to me. His tone seemed different than what it used to be.

“Yeah, a very long time for me. Though, just 45 days actually”, I said, trying to sound normal.

“So how is everybody at home?”

“All doing good”, I replied. With every reply, my heart sank down feeling as if it was being crushed.

“How is Ratna and everybody at college?”

“Awesome”. I was wondering when he would ask anything more.

“Say something. You seem quiet”, he said. There was so much to be said but I was bewildered whether I should say it or not.

“How is everything over there Aryan? You told me you’ve joined somewhere.”

“Oh yes, it is going good now. A lot of activities in here, and I am getting to involve myself into more of politics”.

“That’s great”.

There was a pause for a few seconds, before he spoke.

“So anything else to say? Or I’ll call you later.”

I could not take it anymore. I could not speak normally to him that way. As tears trickled down from my eyes, I somehow managed to say, “Not much. Just that I miss you”, was all in which I tried to convey whatever I felt every moment.

“I know that, but don’t miss me so much that it affects you badly”, he said.

“Take care”, I said after a pause.

“You too. Will talk to you later. Got to go now”, he hung up quickly. I sat down silently, trying to recollect the conversation.

It was more of a distant friend calling me after years to know if I existed. I could not believe after he had hung up, that I had talked to him on a call. I consoled myself that it might have been because he would be stressed, busy in a new city.

Not that I was disappointed, even a simple ‘Hello’ from him made my day. I assumed it to be his way of telling me that I meant a lot to him. I don’t know if it was too much of an assumption, but at that time I had to console myself, and I did.

At every point of time, as days passed by, be it through his occasional letters or his infrequent calls, he made me analyze that things were being different. I had stopped telling him things that I wanted him to know. We talked more formally as days went by.

From formal conversations, they changed to ones with an awkward silence, and slowly, to ones where I simply listened to all that he could say about me, “whatever he wanted to”, but could not say anything from my side lest it should have made me sound like a fool to him.

Even I didn’t come to know why things were going that way. The worst part when we care about somebody is their indifference towards our emotions, especially when we are concerned about them. We never know what went wrong in all that we did.

There were times when he told me about everything that he wanted to do when I didn’t ask him, and there were times in that situation when he never told me anything even when I wanted to know.

He merely called or wrote to signify his presence in the latter days when I reminded him that he hadn’t done that for long. There were moments when he mocked at the way I looked at things or laughed about how mushy I was being for my life.

It seemed as if he had forgotten who Mishti Sengupta had become after he had entered her life. I had stopped saying that I wanted everything to be the same like earlier, that I missed him and that all I wanted was centered around him; but I could not even tell him that.

For me, even in those moments of humiliation, hurtful jokes, indifferent attitude towards me, like talking to somebody I was merely acquainted with; when it hurt me badly from inside, killed me each day when I wondered what I could do to bring everything back; there was a thought that he at least talked to me.

I occupied at least a space as small as the corner of a paper in his mind for a few seconds. I wondered how he did not miss anything. I wondered if I had made some mistakes which made him forget everything we had promised.

But just for the sake of hearing his voice for some time, I managed with everything he said to me. Though everytime after we talked, I was left alone with my tears, contemplating upon my faults, I still listened to him, in a false hope.

After three months, he stopped writing to me. I could never tell him anything that I felt. I was already bad at telling him many things, and his attitude made it scary to say anything further. And for his own reasons, I could never write it to him. Yet, I did not stop writing to myself.

I wanted him to stay with me, the way he had once wanted to. I did not tell him to write to me anymore. He did not feel the need to do so and I did not want to seem dependent on that to be closer to him. Moreover, I felt I had already given up so much of my dignity, looking like an emotional brat, that I simply agreed to what he said, and I seemed stupid, insane and dumb to him.

Writing to myself and reliving the moments from my past seemed more soothing than talking to him. From what our conversations had turned into, I felt better without talking to him. Somehow this Aryan whom I had started to know, scared me in my worst nightmares, and though I missed the Aryan I had known till then, I still preferred to be with him only in my memories.

Ratna often used to ask me why I wasn’t trying to move on when she looked at what I was going through. She knew everything indirectly but never asked me because I hadn’t told her anything on my own.

I knew why I wasn’t trying that. I did not want to lose him. I could not imagine Mishti without Aryan. For me, everything was perfect only as long as he was with me. Without him, it was like a punishment to survive. The reason why I had chosen to suffer that way.

After five months of dragging the connection, he finally gave up. He did not tell me anything. I assumed that he gave up, when there were no calls for the next two months. I knew he had left me. I knew he did not want to be with somebody so insane and dumb like I was.

Though I had never imagined that the person who said that he loved me for who I was, would walk away because he could not be with me for who I was, but I accepted it silently, like all that he had ever said to me, earlier or later. I tried to find his whereabouts with the help of those whom I knew, but he never appeared to me. Unknowingly, my heart stopped trying for it.

I spent most of my time alone, crying over the loss. I felt like a loser who did not even know what led to the loss. I continued to look for reasons, though it did not matter to anyone anymore. I cursed myself for not being able to control the turn of events. I wished for him to come back.

At nights, when I went for a walk with Timothy, I used to look at the sky, watching the stars blankly, until Timothy licked my fingers, and I realized that I had been crying all the time. I was trying to breathe but life had left me without him. I was like a living corpse for which the world was silently mourning.

What tormented me more was that my loved ones were getting hurt to see me that way. My parents knew that something was troubling me. In fact, they knew the reason too. And they had been supportive for me to start being myself again. I did not want to hurt them.

I had created my own world of cobwebs, which was for myself, and nobody, not even Aryan, could enter it. I did not want anybody else to suffer for something that I had chosen. I did not want anybody to enter a world unknown to them.

And slowly, Mishti Sengupta started living as two persons, the one for the world, helpful, compassionate and the way she had always been; and the other for herself, for the way she actually felt inside, for paying the prices for her choices, for her sufferings.

It was not so difficult to be happy. After all happiness is but another beauty of souls created by God. Moreover, it was not so difficult when I had people around me who made efforts for making me smile at least for a second.

Ratna used to be fun-loving all the time, taking me to various places, we had never visited before. Hyderabad had never seemed so adventurous to me with her, because I had never explored it with her that way.

Timothy used to wait for me back home for the unforgettable time I spent with him. My parents planned trips every weekend whenever my father was at home, accompanied by Ratna of course. And none of them mentioned him thankfully.

College was the only place that seemed to haunt me with his memories. I found another way of being busy over there. I started writing for a local monthly political journal. It was my way of bringing up social issues from nearby places. It helped a lot to distract myself and helped me to get myself drowned into my aspirations too.

By the time I had learnt to start living again, it was time for our annual examinations; which meant there were just a few more days in the city for me, depending on the result of my examination for the internship I wanted.

It was the last week of April. We had appeared for our annual examinations. My examination for the internship was also over. By my efforts, I expected a good result. I still continued to write for the local journal, because I wanted to keep myself busy for that much time.

Though I was hopeful about the scholarship that I would get if I achieved a good score in the exam, I felt awkward in the end at the thought of leaving Hyderabad. The city had brought so many memories for me, no matter which way.

It was just another Sunday when my father was at home and we had planned a visit to Hussain Sagar Lake early in the morning after many days. I was getting ready and waiting for Ratna. She was late that day. She usually came on time when we had our plans.

I called her to remind that it was Sunday. From the other side, I heard her voice, trembling, much as a shock for me.

“Ratna! What happened? Is everything okay?”

“Mishti. My father! We are in a big trouble. I am scared”, I heard her sobs from the other side.

“What happened? Will you please tell me?”, I asked, horrified.

Half an hour later, I was at her place. I had promised my parents to be back home before afternoon, because I did not want to leave them alone with our plan. Timothy had accompanied me to Ratna’s place. Somehow, Timothy always went everywhere with me those days.

I reached her place as she had explained. That was my first visit to her place. I had never been there before. All I knew about her was that she came from a modest background and lived with her father and an elder brother. Her mother was no more. Her brother worked in a software company in the city and her father was a social worker.

Though, she did seem lost to me at times, her cheerful attitude never made me wonder what all she had hidden behind her smile. I wondered why I had been so ignorant till then.

As I entered the room where she led me, I saw her father on the bed, asleep, probably trying to recover from recent injuries. I saw his face and something about him seemed familiar to me. I had seen him somewhere earlier, though I could not remember where.

I followed her back to the living room, where I finally asked her, “What has happened to him Ratna? How did it happen?”

“My father works for a local NGO Mishti. Three years back, he had stood up against the MLA of this region for the corrupt distribution of funds on the pretext of child education. The result, he was beaten badly, thankfully not to death, because somebody had saved him that morning…”

The scene flashed before my eyes. I knew where I had seen him.

“Ratna! Oh my God! How could I forget that!”, I interrupted her.

“Yes, that was my first outing in the city. We had been out when we saw your father in that situation. I can’t believe this. Yes, it was my father who did that.”

She looked at me with tears in her eyes and leapt to hug me tightly, “Oh Mishti! I owe it all to you and your family”, she started crying.

“No Ratna! What was wrong will be wrong. We had to do it”, I said wiping her tears, “but that is not the point. You were telling me what’s wrong now”.

“Because of uncle, daddy had been alive that time. Just alive, but all his evidences were gone, and he could hardly stand”, tears continued to flow from her eyes, “moreover, because of the threatening we got, he was quiet till he could get something against them. It took him three years Mishti. Three years to rebuild himself, three years to be able to walk again, three years to recollect the evidences which could prove him right. In these three years, he was silent, so everything went along well, until last week.

He finally had clues in his hand to be followed to unveil the story behind the whole chain of people involved in it. But as if they knew, that he was back. They caught him again, when he was trying to reach more people who could help him. Nobody even knows the reality. And I fear, they will leave him helpless as before. I do not know what to do Mishti. They will kill him this time. The authorities will not support us until we have evidences, and even then they may not stand up against the MLA, N. Ramamurthy. He is still in power. I don’t know what to do Mishti. I want the truth to come up, but I also want him to be safe”, she burst at the top of her voice, hiding her face in my palms.

I sat still, numb, trying to find some way out of it. I did not know what to say. I did not know how to help my best friend out of it. It was not just a matter of my best friend and her family, it was a matter of truth, justice. Had we not learnt that we should do everything to support the truth? I had not studied journalism just like that.

Journalism, yes! I looked at Ratna. We could do something. I had a light in my eyes.

“Ratna, I am leaving for home. It is urgent, but you know it will help us, help you out of this. We can do something about it dear”, I tried to cheer her up.

“Mishti, I love you for this”, she said through her tears.

“I am your best friend”, I replied and walked with Timothy out of the gate.

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