"See... I told you na ke iss hum tum ki jodi kabhi nahi ban sakti.... :'("
I read the message from my friend Kunj once more. I had just come out of a grueling two hour meeting and was surprised to see five missed calls and three messages. Kunj's message was the first I read, and it didn't make any Sense to me. I read the other messages. One was from Prachi and the other from Vidya. Both college friends. Both wanted me to call them. Four of the five missed calls were from them. The last call was from my boss and I promptly returned it, only to be told to rush to another meeting. It was late afternoon when I emerged from the second meeting and like before, there were calls and messages from Prachi and Vidya. I dialed Prachi and she answered before the first ring was over.
"Where have you been?" She sounded excited and loud enough to be heard even without using the phone.
"Busy in meetings yaar. Kya hua, both you and Vidi are going bonkers"
"Arre, bahut achchi news hai. Guess kar"
"Prachi, mujhe bahut bhookh lagi hai. I've been in meetings since morning and am really pissed at some people."
"Oho, madam is in one of her famous moods"
"Ok. Ok..... bataati hoon. Bhavna is getting married"
"Yeah, shaadi fix ho gayi uski"
"Oh, kab hai?
"Kal?", I nearly screamed "Kal Shaadi hai?"
"No baba, shaadi 6 months ke baad hai. Kal sirf engagement hai."
"Oh", I said quietly. A feeling of shock and anger came over me. Shock at the suddenness of things and anger at getting the news so late.
"When did this happen?"
"Last week. The guy is an NRI. Came down to meet her last saturday. They met and now tomorrow is the engagement. Cool na?"
"What happened to you?"
"Nothing, I gotta go. Got a big campaign coming up. Haven’t had last weekend off. Will have to work tomorrow as well."
"Oh, then how will you come?"
"For the engagement"
"In case you haven't noticed, she didn't invite me.", my voice was seething with sarcasm, and a silent anger. An awkward silence followed, and Prachi wasn't sure what to say. I knew she wasn't at fault, and I shouldn't have snapped at her. So I apologised.
"Sorry, I shouldn't have said that. But I am really hurt Bhavna didn't call me."
"We were trying to call you. Me and Vidya and Bhavna in a conference."
"Oh, ok. But still yaar, can't come."
"Ok, take care. we'll catch up one of these days"
I walked into the canteen and looked around for something to eat. The food was over, all that was available was cold samosas or sandwiches. I ordered for two grilled sandwiches and sat down to eat. It was then that Vidya called me.
"Hi Vidi.... main call karne waali thi tujhe"
"Yeah yeah, I know... Prachi called me after she talked to you"
"No, I'm not going"
"Am busy this weekend. It’s not like I don't have a life of my own and am simply sitting around waiting for someone to call me at the last moment and I’ll jump up and go.”
I could see that she was angry. As angry as I was. “What about you”, she continued in the same stream “what will you say?”
And that’s Vidi for you- always presumes things and presumes them right.
“I have a pitch coming up. Can’t go even if hell breaks loose.”
We chatted for a minute about this and that, with the same question running in both our minds – Why had Bhavna not informed us?
While nibbling through the sandwiches, I thought about Kunj’s message. It made a lot of sense now, and behind the deliberate tone was a lot of hurt. I could see that. I decided to call him.
“Hello ji. Kyaa haal hai aapka?” There was a tone of false cheerfulness in his voice.
“Kunj. I just heard. Am sorr” He broke in between saying “Arre, why are you sorry re? Tu kuch kar sakti thi kya? Dekh Ami, sympathy mat dena mujhe. I am very sad for myself. But happy for her. Ladka achcha hai. Bhavna khush rahegi. That’s all I want yaar. And you are one of the three people who know my feelings for her and the only one who knows the whole story. Don’t just tell anyone. I am closing this chapter of my life”
“Arre, chill kar re”
“Yeah. Best of luck. And hope you find a girl who’s even better than Bhavna”
“Nobody can be better than Bhavna yaar. But it’s ok. I’ll be fine”
With that the call ended. I thought of the brave front Kunj was putting on and the intense disappointment in his voice when he’d said “Nobody can be better than Bhavna”
It was about six months ago when I learnt of Kunj’s feeling for Bhavna. An idle evening being whiled away on the net, resulted in a heart-to-heart with Kunj, a classmate of mine in college. I was never very close to him and knew him only through Bhavna. Bhavna, Prachi, Vidya and I were pals. And close ones at that. That’s the reason I was irked more than ever by Bhavna’s attitude towards us. For the last one year, she had broken off all contact with me and Vidi. The calls were unanswered and messages ignored. It was during this time that I had my conversation with Kunj. He wanted Bhavna’s contact number – for the one final time when he wanted to tell her of his feelings, instead of throwing about hints as he had been doing.
It wasn't love at first sight. Kunj saw Bhavna on the first day of his college. He was one of the sixty who began their college education and like the other fifty-nine, wasn't thrilled about it. Reason - he was stuck in this jail of a college. He had wanted a better college, but like thousands of students, he too had been forced to choose between a so-so college and a course of his choice and a good college and an uninteresting course. He had chosen the former and landed in St John's technical Institute, as a first year wishing to get a bachelor of Engineering degree in Computer Science. And that’s where he met Bhavna and Sarita and Pari and Neelam and Poonam and Lipi and a lot of girls who were all first years in his college. When he learned that Bhavna would be in his class, he was pleased. She was a pretty and petite girl, who had a cute smile. They got talking, and suddenly she asked him.
“Are you a gujju?”
“I am one too”
“Yeah, guess it takes one to spot another”, she laughed at her little joke and Kunj joined in. From that day, they always talked in Gujrati, even when a horde of friends surrounded them.
Bhavna wasn’t mindblowing. She was a gentle girl and it was her sweet disposition and naturally caring nature that made Kunj fall for her.
“She really cared about me Ami” Kunj had told me “Always helped me with assignments and journals. Even allowed me copy in the tests. And you know what, she would also check if there were mistakes in the papers I had written. Imagine, if she cared so much about my studies, how much she would care about my life, my family?”
I didn’t have the heart to tell Kunj that she was like this with everyone. She had a natural mother goose instinct. And didn’t exactly understand his reasons for falling in love with her. Maybe he wasn’t telling all. But, I didn’t press him. I just heard him tell me of the times when he tried to tell Bhavna of his feelings for her. Long lines on the chat window – Kunj’s story in his own words.
“I really like you Bhavna” I told her one day. And she said “So do I. We should always remain friends. Don’t forget to call me for your wedding”
This to my mind was the clearest indication of Bhavna’s feelings. Kunj was a classmate, a friend. Maybe to Kunj’s mind there seemed a possibility. But then, love is blind. I’d given Kunj Bhavna’s number and mail id when he’d asked for it. I knew that he’d called her, but I don’t know what that conversation came to. Kunj didn’t tell and I didn’t ask. I’d thought of him often for I knew Bhavna and Kunj weren’t together. Prachi would’ve told me and Vidi if this was the case. And now Bhavna was getting married. A heartbroken Kunj was putting on a brave face – It’s a love story that never was.