The Enchanting Midnight

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The Night of Despair

CHAPTER 23

The Night Of Despair

“Oh, and what is it for which you have to think how to tell that to me?”, I asked.

She remained silent. For a minute on that extremely cold night, there was absolute silence around us, on that lonely road. I was beginning to feel the anxiety which she had on her face, and which I had been trying to hide. In that ominous numbness in the atmosphere, she finally looked up.

“I need sometime for that doctor”, she said in a pleading tone which indicated that she really wanted that time, but I did not think it was required.

“You might be able to frame it in a different way sometime later, but the point would be the same. I can see that you have already troubled yourself a lot about it. So, I request you to vent it out right now or never”, I said in an affirmative tone, looking right into her eyes.

She looked into mine for a few seconds, then as if realizing that I would stand by my words seriously, she sighed, giving me a helpless look. I wondered what it was all about. I knew it had something to do with the day she had spent with Ratna, but was not sure.

She looked up to the sky and then back to me. After what seemed like a minute, she replied, “ It is so cold tonight, a gloomy chill bringing numbness, isn’t it?”

I looked at her. She was looking towards the road beyond us. Yes, it was very cold, and it brought numbness, I thought. I did not interrupt her flow of thoughts, otherwise she might not have spoken.

She continued,” I really hate being bewildered doctor. But most of the times, I am brought to the same complicated dilemmas. How beautiful things are when it is all simple, isn’t it?”, she looked at me.

I nodded this time, to seem supportive for what she was going to tell me. She smiled weakly. It made me shiver from inside. I could feel my own anxious heartbeat and the blood turning cold inside my veins as I feared seeing her that way.

“First things first doctor and the simpler ones first too, if I don’t try to make it sound more dramatic”, she said and I looked up at her. Her eyes were getting moist by then. It was something that troubled her too much.

“In just another 5 days, my six months of internship in Bhopal would be over”, she said.

I dropped my jaw in disbelief, “But you had come over here just two months back, isn’t it?”, but I knew she would have a valid answer.

“I had come to your locality two months back, but I had come to Bhopal five months ago. I used to stay near my office until I came to know about a house that I could afford in this place. From tomorrow, I simply have to attend the office in the daytime, which means my timings would be different.”

I stayed silent. It was not at all a good news, but it seemed to be distressing to me!

She continued to speak, “I had thought of staying back in Bhopal to continue working over here, especially after I met you all”, I looked up as she spoke, “in fact I was sure about it. I had made all the possible arrangements. It wasn’t a difficult task you know”.

The way she spoke in past tense made me confident that it wasn’t the case anymore. I waited for her to speak, trying to hide what I was feeling inside.

“But now, it seems my coming days are destined to be spent somewhere else”.

“What did Ratna tell you Mishti? I know the thought of leaving from here isn’t exactly what has been troubling you”, I asked at last. She looked at me in disappointment.

“How can you say that the thought of leaving from here isn’t troubling me?? Though, it isn’t the actual point.”

“I take my words back. So what is it actually?”

“I’ll have to go back to Hyderabad doctor”, she said with a heavy voice. I waited for her to speak because I knew there was more to come.

“After Ratna left, I was visited by the authorities from there regarding my case…”

“Why don’t you tell me everything on time?”, I interrupted her.

She looked up. I became silent on seeing her. She was already under a turmoil, which I hadn’t been able to know completely.

She spoke, “I was figuring out how to tell you because of what I got to know. Let me complete doctor. I was visited by them. There is a long way before Ramamurthy can be proved guilty. Somebody has to identify the people whom we had seen being violent to Ratna’s father. Moreover, there are some people whom I may not know, but may be able to recognize if they are made to face me, in order to get the connecting links. It has been proved that my parents were not a victim of a mere accident, which of course proves that it happened because of me, as I’d thought”.

I wanted to yell at her that it was not her fault, but stayed silent because my heart said that the main thing was yet to come.

She continued,” The police have found out that the electricity connections to our house had been disturbed beforehand for a short circuit. The unusual blackout in our area was also a planned one. When the power came back, it was bound to happen. Moreover, explosives had been planted in our backyard to propagate the blast, which happened, and the leakage story was wrong.”

“But the only missing link is that nobody unknown had ever been inside our house without being noticed by us because of Timothy; so none would have known the suitable place for their plan and the situation of our hidden room in the backyard. It is something very odd, and I’ll have to go there to find it out or at least do something about it. I know it was him behind everything that happened with me, and I can’t stay back if they have a doubt about it. I have to get him proved guilty anyhow. So, I have to go.”

I knew it was her obligation, her strongest desire. She had to go.

“I understand Mishti. You should go. In fact, I would like to go along with you. Why will anyone stop you for this? This is something that you ought to do, isn’t it? Why was it so difficult to be told?”, I asked her.

She remained silent.

I looked at her questioningly.

“No doctor. You shouldn’t come along.”

Those words made my heart heavy. It was something serious and it hurt me. I had thought of taking her out of all that, but probably she had never thought that way. She looked at me, and may be realized what I was thinking.

“I am sorry. I did not mean it the way it sounded. I know it hurt you. I take my words back doctor, but I do not want you to come along. It is a harsh request I know but I hope you agree to it”, she pleaded.

I remained silent. She continued,” I will be able to do it. Not that I don’t value all that you have done for me till now, but this is something with which only I should deal. Only I should face everything about it. I am really sorry, but it is me who should go and conclude the events.”

I knew I had to agree. I did not have the right to interfere into something she had already decided. I wondered how I was interrogating her like a child. She wanted to keep some things to herself too.

“It is okay Mishti. I understand. Still I would be there, if you need me, and I request you to call me, in case there is any problem”, I said. She nodded and smiled at me. I smiled back at her.

“ Is that all you had to say?”, I asked because she still seemed lost.

“The actual thing remains doctor”.

I wondered what else it could be.

“I hate this doctor. I really hate this. I have to go to Hyderabad and relive probably everything that happened when I was there”. I knew what she meant. “But facing it when I have decided everything I want to do for me is ridiculous”.

I was still confused.

“I am in a dilemma doctor. Help me”, she burst into tears. I stood there, as helpless as she was. I did not know for what she needed my help. All I knew was that I couldn’t see her that way. I shook her.

“Mishti, will you please tell me what is it?”, I said authoritatively.

She cried like a child. Only once before that night, had I seen her crying that way. Then wiping her own tears, she replied, “He wants to come back doctor. Aryan is waiting for me there.”

I removed my hands from her shoulders, which had happened in a flow. The last sentence meant a lot. Not because it was something unexpected; I had that doubt at the back of my mind always; but because she seemed too worried about it.

I could not lie to myself through the dominating numbness that it did not make me happy though. I had no idea if she would be happy about it. Yet, in some corner of my heart, I wasn’t happy. But I knew I didn’t have to speak. I needed to know what she thought about it. I had to help her after all.

“Will you help me doctor?”, she asked, still crying.

I did not know how I could help her to clear her dilemma about what to do. How could I?

“How can I help you?”, I asked, my throat choked.

“It is not good doctor. This, what is happening with me. I had tried to move on after he left, isn’t it? I had explained myself that I won’t have to think about him again. I have struggled a lot already. I had compromised a lot with myself to be strong again. I have found myself after all this time, and now, things are getting back. I don’t know if I should be happy or sad about it? I wanted my answers from him too, but I thought I would never get a chance to do so. I am getting back what I had really wanted after I have lost everything else, and have learnt to live again. I fear going through it again doctor”, she paused looking into my eyes, “ I don’t know what to do doctor”.

I looked away from her. I really did not know how to look into her eyes directly. I did not know how to help her in this most complicated issue, when I felt something about her. I composed myself and asked her, “What do you want Mishti?”

She shrugged her shoulders. The look in her eyes said that she really did not know.

“Think about it. Face your fear. Don’t answer me. Ask and answer yourself. If you do not want him because you don’t love him anymore, it is fine. But if you don’t want him, because he had stepped back and left you, it is not fair. I am sure your heart will tell you what you want. May be after some time, when everything is fine, you won’t remember the time when you had to learn to live without him. May be all this will not matter. May be things come at the right moments as I have learnt. May be you should get your answers from him, if you still love him ”, I paused, thought for a moment and then added,” I have started finding the answers to many unexplained questions in my heart from the surroundings, from the night and from the sky, because of the way you taught me how to feel their beauty. I am sure you already know that it works”, I said trying not to reveal anything more.

She looked at me, but did not say anything. I wondered if I had said the wrong thing. She kept looking at me silently. I did not know if she was thinking about anything, lost in some other world or really looking at me, trying to judge my words.

I had a stream of thoughts running in my mind too. I knew she would leave. Somehow I had known she was not mine. She was always destined to be apart from me. It was I who had fallen for her unknowingly, but she had already loved somebody else for her share, and though she had tried to move on, it remained in her heart. I had seen some of the lines she wrote. They reflected some kind of secret wishes. May be they were about this.

“Maybe doctor, I don’t know. So you have figured out everything?”, she asked me.

I was taken aback. I did not know if it was a question or a doubt raised upon what I had just said.

“I think so. But it is your decision, isn’t it? I just tried to help. It is you who has to think about it”, I said, trying to sound normal, curbing the gush of pain I felt.

“And you have decided what you think is right?”, she asked me again.

“I just tried to figure out from my point of view”, I replied, confused.

“I see doctor. I will think about it”, she paused, “Thank you so much doctor. You have always been there for me. I do not know how to thank you for trying to help in this critical situation too”, she couldn’t stop her tears. I wanted to move from there before I couldn’t hide my pain.

“Anytime. I am your amazing friend after all”, I replied.

“Yes, you will always be”, she replied, looking deeply into my eyes and burst into tears again. I wanted to stop her, but did not know in which way.

Amidst her tears, she continued walking. My heart was wailing too, at what I had explained her about her dilemma. I did not know what to do; to console myself or to ask her the reason for her misery. Probably, she had got too attached to the place. I knew that she did not want to leave Bhopal. But I was not in a position to say anything at that time. She had to go, I reminded myself.

As we reached my house, she turned to me, “Good night doctor”, she said in her usual tone, looking at me for longer than usual though.

“Good night”, I replied.

Her gaze seemed very different. I could not understand it. But I had many things inside me to understand too. She smiled at me, I smiled back, not knowing that it would be the last time when I saw her.

That night, I could not sleep. I was a little child from inside. The girl I had started loving as a miracle that happened to me, as someone whose presence I found everywhere around me, was going away. Not just away from the place, but away from me too, I knew. She might not come back, I thought. Actually, it wouldn’t be fine for her either, if she came back. I did not know if I would be able to see her after those 5 days. But I hadn’t known that night was the last one when I had seen her.

___________________________________________

The next few mornings at the bus stop were very different for me. I hadn’t known it would hurt deep inside. I did not expect her to be around. I travelled alone. Yet, I could not stop myself from living through her presence in that breeze which touched my face or that chill which remained. At nights, when I returned, I relived all of those moments when she talked endlessly about everything. I knew for those five days, I would not meet her. But I did not want to miss the opportunity of seeing her before she left.

It was the night after the fourth day, when she had to leave. I had known when she would have to leave. In fact, she had visited my parents one day earlier and spent her time with them. They were equally sad to see her leaving from there, especially my mother, who had found a friend, like I had. My mother had told me to reach the station on time. She knew it meant a lot to me, to see her for the last time. It wasn’t very usual for me to make good friends.

I left from the hospital on time, unaware of what had to come. It was festival time, and I had to go way too long from there. I hadn’t known that there would be so much commotion on the roads, but it was there. I drove speedily to reach Bhopal station. I tried to find peace with the breeze around me to make myself feel less anxious. I hadn’t known I would feel that way!

I reached the station just on time. I parked my car, and dashed towards the depicted platform, but to my disappointment, I saw the train leaving from the platform. I hurried towards it, trying to keep up with its speed, but I missed it. I had never regretted missing trains before that. The girl whom I really loved had gone, and I had missed the opportunity to wish her the best, to promise her of being there if she needed me, to see her smile for the last time probably.

I found my parents in one corner, waiting for me.

“The train left Siddharth. Where were you?”, my mother asked me.

I had moist eyes. She saw them and hugged me. I really needed that. I really needed somebody to tell me that I wasn’t alone. I wiped the tears without letting her know, trying to hide my turmoil, when she handed a letter to me. I looked at her questioningly.

“Mishti has given this for you”, she replied.

I held it in my hands and it seemed as if she would come from somewhere saying, “Doctor, aren’t you going to read that?”

But she did not come. I knew, she was not going to come. She had decided what she wanted, and I knew she was away..

___________________________________________

Back In Present

I still read this letter of hers after eight years for the umpteenth time again.

Doctor,

I am sorry to have left this way. I admit that I avoided to face you before I left. I knew it would hurt you. But you know, it hurt me too. I hadn’t thought this place and you all would be so close to me when I had met you for the first time. But it happened, even you would agree to it. I will miss everything- aunty, uncle, the camp, those midnights, my birthday, the Upper Lake, the view from the Birla Temple, that weather which remained secretly, the time we spent together, the common bus, the walk back home…and you. Yes you. I will miss you doctor. You have been with me always, everywhere ever since I have found you. I can see your presence like a miracle. You have made me who I am. You are my amazing friend indeed. I know you will want me to stay blessed just like I wish for you always.

There are many reasons why I did not want you to accompany me to Hyderabad. I have lost people who mattered to me. I do not want that to happen again. I do not want you to suffer for anything related to me, if it goes that way. You, my amazing friend, matter to me too. I knew what you thought doctor. I had seen you every time you felt that. I had known that. I had seen the pain in your eyes when you talked about him too. I know why you asked me to decide about my dilemma, and like always I am proud that I know you. I respect you a lot doctor, and you know I really hadn’t wanted to leave. But you are an amazing person doctor. And you deserve someone equally amazing. I was not the one for you. May be we had been destined to meet for experiencing some miracles.

I do not want you to suffer for anything that you felt doctor. I have made my choice already and you should make yours too. I apologize if I seem to be outspoken but I want you to keep your parents happy. They really love you. We will always be friends. Do not punish yourself for what you felt. It happens you know. I really wish that you stay miraculous always. I am glad that you learnt to love this season. I hope we never meet again. I won’t be able to face you. It is a request doctor. Please do not try to find me. Never face me doctor.

Stay blessed. I am thankful to God for giving me an amazing friend like you. I hope your better half is more amazing than you.

Mishti.

I sit frozen on my bed. This letter always makes me cry and I do not try to hide those tears. They were genuine, just like this letter, which remains safe till now.

Though the first time, when I had read it, I remember, I had cried like a child trying to hide myself in my mother’s lap. I had felt very weak. I knew what had left me. But I knew who had just left. Because I knew she had something in her heart that I did not really know. It hurt a lot to lose her despite that fact. Yet, her words mattered to me. I tried to abide by all that she had told me to do.

It was difficult and painful at first. I lived with her presence everywhere (which still remains as a miracle). I even felt that she would come to me sometime. I visited those places (I still do). Nothing could take her presence away and I still feel it with the breeze, the winter, the midnights which enchanted my soul and every single thing about me.

Then I started taking it as something usual, her presence with me. I knew I had to do what she had told me to do. My mother’s wishes were not unknown to her. That’s why she had written it clearly. The reason why I hadn’t lied to my better half, Dr. Avantika Chatterjee, my mother’s choice, whom I hadn’t wanted to suffer. Yes, she is equally amazing, when she accepted what I told her, and has proved to be so all these years. I was more touched, the day she named our daughter ‘Mishti’. I knew why she had done that, and I knew why she was my better half, for whom I was blessed to be with.

I had missed my amazing friend on that auspicious day of my life too. But I knew I did not have to face her. She had told me not to. I knew she was with the one she had always loved. I knew she would have been fine. I knew she wouldn’t have needed me in her conquest. She had someone back there.

All these years, I had wished that she would be blessed every day. But now, all of a sudden, I have found her in a condition which I had never imagined for her. It still hurts me to see her that way. How could it happen to her? But more than that, I had to find out why she had come here after so long? Did she need me? And where was Aryan?

I sit, confused, as dawn sets in. I see Avantika, sleeping peacefully, aware of Mishti’s actual presence in our hospital. The reason why I respect my better half. I have to find the answers to my questions. I know. I have to face the girl I had loved as a miracle, whose presence I still find everywhere, even though she had told me not to do so. I have to know.

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