The Enchanting Midnight

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When Words Were Not Needed

CHAPTER 21

When Words Were Not Needed

“I had been waiting for the lights,

And they came by miracles in such a way,

That years might fly with time,

Yet inside my heart they have a forever stay…”

As days passed by, I experienced more of what I had never thought I would. Every morning my day seemed to start at the bus stop, where I found her always, waiting for the same bus. We used to get in together, get place for ourselves and then those twenty minutes used to be the most beautiful ones for me.

The biggest reason being the change that I saw in her. Unlike earlier, silence was not the only thing between us. In those twenty minutes, I saw her the way she probably used to be, getting back to herself, smiling all that time about anything that seemed delightful to her, and then turning to me for revealing the reason behind that. At times, though, she smiled silently, never telling me the reason for that; and even I did not want to interrupt her serene solitude.

She always kept telling me about something or the other. Sometimes it would be about the weather at different times of the day or night and how beautiful it seemed to her, while at other times, it would be about the people around us.

The acquaintances in our locality, the people at her office, the people at my office (none of whom we knew mutually, but always loved to tell stories about them), the people whom we met every day in the bus, including the conductor who had become a known one, acknowledging us with a smile every day, the instances about me or her with my mother. She always had stories to tell and I shared mine too.

When there were no more instances I knew, she would keep telling me about people she knew from the places where she had lived or about the places she had been to. I did not know anything about them, but I loved to listen to all that she had to tell me.

Apart from the fact that a vibrant aurora seemed to surround her when she was in her own world of the stories we shared, it was a pleasure to watch her child-like enthusiasm and innocence about every little thing in this world.

She wanted to take the responsibility of anything that went wrong. She wished to celebrate every little joy around her, even if it wasn’t hers. She wished to take away the troubles of those in pain around her. At all these times, she got so lost into everything so deeply in that different world, that she often forgot herself. It was another form of hers that I saw, but she probably enjoyed getting drowned in the things she loved to do.

After spending the day at work, when I got into the bus, she kept a seat reserved for me beside her, owing to our same timings. When I asked her about the day, she had numerous things to tell about the world that contained us, be it the small world of ours, or the one that concerned everybody who existed.

Though she never got tired of that, in between she often asked me to narrate similar instances, and I did that because I loved to tell her everything secretly. Our conversation came to a hault only when we reached the gate of my house and wished good night to each other. At times, the same conversation continued for the next day.

Initially, she always occupied the window seat because she loved the chill and the breeze. She did not want to miss a single opportunity to be close to that experience. Later, she offered it to me as well, and we switched places on alternate days. It was quite an achievement to occupy that seat especially since I had started loving the weather. So the one on the window seat always felt like a winner.

Early in the morning or while returning at night, often when there wasn’t much crowd in the bus or owing to the severe winter, when we were only four people in the bus, including the driver and the conductor, she used to start a random conversation, about social issues or the ambience of Bhopal with the conductor, turning to me in between, “Isn’t it so, doctor?”, and I replied and joined them, smiling at myself at the back of my mind.

It was the same winter season, severely cold in fact. Yet, it wasn’t the same for me anymore. Not feeling cold was just one thing about it that I was experiencing for the first time. There was more to it.

I knew that I was a good friend to her, and for me, she was an innocent lovely one, who became dearer with each passing day. It did not matter to me that she was unaware of that. She always said that I was a blessing for her, but she did not know that I felt that more than her, for reasons unknown, or may be known..

I had a few people around me, whom I loved to watch being their genuine self, for whom I loved to make efforts to bring happiness, who were important to me, for whom I would have gone far to let them stay at peace, but they were all my known ones, my loved ones.

I really did not understand why I felt that obligation for her because I hadn’t known her for long. I hadn’t known why she had opened up her past to me. Yet, I did not want to understand that because I felt ecstatic to live in those moments. I wanted them to continue and I feared that trying to know the reasons behind them might have spoilt their beauty.

It was the first time that I was experiencing miracles; the first time when I had come to know the magic behind the warmth that a simple breezy winter night could bring, the first time when I had seen the beauty of a chilly moonlit midnight recently, and the first time when I had come to experience that my beliefs could be real.

The secret behind them was of course the light inside my heart, and the blessings of love which I was given. The light, however did not come only from where she had tried to explain the other night. It came from the love which had secretly started sprouting inside my heart, or probably which was always there, for her.

But then, maybe I hadn’t known that love always crept in slowly. It grew unconsciously when the heart was busy doing something else, when the heart hadn’t thought of looking for it. And one day out of all the usual events, the realization dawned upon the soul that the heartfelt blissful because of love, the love which was always sought unknowingly. Yet, when it arrived, love had its own ways and the innocent heart was never able to make out that it had found its reason for existence in this world.

On one such night while returning from work, as I occupied my seat(It was my turn to take the window seat that night), she seemed eager to tell me something, before I could ask her about her day.

I could make that out because at other times, when it used to be my turn for the window seat, she reluctantly vacated it when I came, teasing me that it was better when I feared the chill. But that night, she shifted to her place at once before I reached there and waited for me to settle down with eagerness in her eyes.

I looked at her again. She wanted to speak but wasn’t uttering a word. She moved her fingers in anxiety, looking outside the window, probably thinking about something that was on her mind. I decided to ask her on my own.

“What is it?”

She looked at me with confused expressions. I wondered if I had noticed too much when there wasn’t anything that she was thinking. No, that could not have been the case. She was always thinking something, and I wasn’t wrong when I noticed that.

“Do you have something to say or ask?”, I asked again.

This time, she responded with a nod of agreement and said, “Actually yes doctor, but I need to frame it. Just give me sometime”.

“Frame it?”, I asked.

“Yes, ‘frame it’. Now let me do that please”.

“You can tell me as it is I suppose.”

“Nooo doctor, let me do it. You can look outside if you can’t wait”, she pulled out her tongue.

I couldn’t stop from laughing and looked out of the window. One reason was to make her do it soon, the other was to enjoy the lovely chilly breeze that came in, since it was my turn to feel it on my face.

After five minutes or so, I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. I looked to the other side. She was looking at me.

“Framed it?”, I asked her.

“Yes!”, she replied confidently. I wondered what it was which made her feel so sure.

“Okay, so what is it?”

“Doctor, I had to ask you something actually”, she paused for a moment,” I know it might sound stupid. Ummmm..will you meet Ratna?”

I looked at her and wondered if that was really what she had wanted to ask me. Her expressions seemed like those of having completed a task, and I concluded that it was all that she had to ask.

“Okay. Is she coming here?”

“Yes doctor! I called her today. It was so good to talk to her again. And you know what she told me was good too. The case filed against N. Ramamurthy was by the NGO itself and he has been proved guilty for that! Moreover, some cases against him have been appealed to get reopened by the NGO in order to prove him guilty, one of them being mine. He has been mentioned as a suspect because of the threatening that we had received on calls as the numbers were successfully traced back. Ratna is an active journalist over there and a member of the NGO. She wants to take everything in her report, and may be sometime later I’ll go for that too. Though, I have to wait before she thinks it is fine because I am the only surviving person who has attended those calls. We would need some more evidences to find out what was the reality behind that disastrous night. That would be much later. Now, she is coming here, after five days….and when I told her that you are my amazing friend and everything about you, uncle, aunty and us, she couldn’t stop from asking me if she could meet you”, she looked at me with an expression of doubt.

“Of course I would be happy to meet her, but what did you tell her about me? I hope it is not something superfluous”, I laughed.

“I only told her the truth doctor”.

“A truth which I will know only when I meet her. But why did you have to think so much before asking that?”, I still seemed confused.

She looked at her hands for some seconds and then replied in a whisper,” I did not want it to sound offensive, that I’ve started portraying you as a trophy to others for the amazing friend I have, although I am proud of calling you that”, she replied with a twinkle in her eyes.

I could only smile at it in wonder. I loved to see that light in her voice. I loved to hear that excitement in her voice. She seemed more beautiful when her inner light captured her presence. She seemed to talk about everything with a charm, that did not seem to fade.

The point which made me feel blessed was that she considered me as a miracle, not knowing that she was a miracle for me too. I had never known how proud it felt when a friend introduced you to another and mentioned you as your most amazing friend. Yes, I felt amazing indeed to be called as that.

That night, she did not wave goodbye to me. She entered my house before I could, calling my mother at the top of her voice. I did not want to interrupt the flow of events and preferred to look at everything she did as a silent witness.

I saw her hugging my mother, telling her everything with the same excitement in which she had told it to me, with that same twinkle in her eyes, that same charm around her, she was creating a moment that I wanted to capture in my eyes. And where was I…standing apart, noticing every second of it.

When she finished with her part, it was my mother’s turn. It seemed as if they had become friends and I was out of the discussion looking at each of them who spoke. I did not even notice what was being spoken. I was away too, but I did not try to listen to it, I just loved to watch them speaking, as if they had known each other since always, as if I had known her since always.

It was a Sunday, the most awaited day for her, when two of her very good friends, still unknown to each other would meet, making her distant worlds merge, as she felt. Another beautiful chilly day in that blessed season. My mother had invited her to taste the kind of chilly chicken that she cooked.

The whole day was spent in listening to both of them talk to each other. My father and I looked at each other, feeling amused to watch both the women talk continuously about themselves and about us. There were instances when they pulled my leg for something or the other and I merely smiled at it.

At one moment, they spoke of irrelevant things and at the other, they came back to me, first laughing at how I behaved for something and then asking, “Am I right Siddharth?” or “Am I right Doctor?”. Of course they were right. Yet, in those moments of being laughed at, I did not leave from there, because I enjoyed watching them, at some points watching her.

When it was 4 in the evening, Mishti came to me reminding that it was time for us to leave. We waved to our parents and I drove to Upper Lake again, the place decided by her. Mishti had started visiting those two places quite often after that night. It used to be Birla Temple at nights and Upper Lake in the daytime.

I never asked her why she visited only those two places. In fact, I never even asked her why she did not want to explore more of the beautiful places in Bhopal. I assumed that she wanted to absorb more of them, just like I always wanted to do.

I stopped near the Boat Club again, as told by her. She stepped out and waved excitedly at a girl standing at a distance. A girl, in her twenties, of average height, dressed in her casuals, unlike Mishti, who was again dressed in a saree, much to my amazement.

She walked to her and signaled me to accompany them. I followed them to a nearby small restaurant where we made place for ourselves. She introduced Ratna and me to each other, and started talking. In between we nodded, until she stopped.

“What happened?”, I asked.

“It is only me who is talking”, she replied making an apologetic expression.

“Oh Mishti, I was quiet because I loved to see you talking again as you always did”, Ratna said to her.

I wanted to say ‘same here’, but did not.

“Ratna you know it is all because of my amazing friend. He is a wonderful basketball player too you know”, and Mishti told her about our match. Thankfully, she did not mention her birthday and what happened then.

“ It is so good to see you this way unlike when you’d left. I must say your friend is really amazing”, she looked at me.

“Oh no, she was like that in reality. She just needed to be reminded of that”, I replied, not knowing what else to say.

“See, I told you”, Mishti winked at her.

She kept telling her about Bhopal, and asked me to tell her more. I told her whatever I knew. After about half an hour or so, Ratna spoke, “Mishti, I have to leave tomorrow at night. I had come here for some work related to the organization. I want to be with you tonight, because I won’t have time tomorrow, and I need to know everything again. There is something that I don’t understand”.

“What is that?”, I asked her because there were some things that I hadn’t understood too.

Ratna looked at me with an expression of support and turned to Mishti, “You did not know may people in Hyderabad, isn’t it?”

Mishti nodded.

“The point is Ramamurthy could not know everything about you, you know minute details about your family, your house, wihtout knowing anybody who was known to you. So, out of the few people you knew, do you think anybody out of them could have known him?”

Mishti seemed to count on her fingers and replied in disappointment,” No Ratna, I can’t make out any such person.”

“It is okay Mishti. I’ll tell you some more things. Oh yes and the police might come to Bhopal and interrogate you before investigating again. I won’t suggest you to come to Hyderabad before we actually get a link to this. But when we do, you can come. I miss you”, she looked at her with moist eyes.

“I miss you too Ratna”, Mishti smiled at her, “but before we talk tonight, you have to stay with me. After so long it seems, I am so happy”.

Yes, she was happy and it was a pleasure to see her being happy. I drove back home, wishing that this happiness remained, wishing that nothing changed in the time to come….

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