Read the prologue and rest of the chapters here: https://kavyajanani.wordpress.com/debut-novel/
“I wonder where Aafreen is,” I mumble to myself. Pradhyuman is happily working in the shop, but Aafreen is nowhere to be found. I decide to find her, since I need answers for my probing questions. Maybe she has them.
I log on to Facebook. It has been six years since I had created an account in that site. I have almost found all of my old friends except Aafreen. She does not have an account. She is not in any of the mutual friends list too. Nobody knows about her whereabouts. The house where she stayed has been vacated long ago. I decide to try my luck once again.
“What the hell! 20 notifications, 7 messages and 10 new friend requests?” I exclaim. Then I realize that it has been ages since I have visited Facebook. Many of the notifications consist of my friends appreciating me on my recent singing performance. The messages are from some random people telling me that they are my fans and they would like to be friends with me. And the friend requests are from the same people. I ignore everyone’s request as I have stuck to my policy of accepting requests only from known people. I reach the Search box and prod over what to type. Then I type ‘Aafreen Rizwan’. I browse through the results. But none matches the Aafreen I am searching for. I try ‘Aafreen Rizwan Khan’. The search shows ‘No Results’. I am disappointed, but I don’t give up. I am sure that she would have an account.
I enter Nimmi’s profile and type ‘Aafreen’ in her Friends list search. “No use!”
‘What if?’ I think. The idea strikes me like a thunderbolt. Though it is a stupid one, I decide to give it a try. Then, I go over to the Search box and type ‘Aafreen Pradhyuman’.
“Oh my god!” I gasp, for the search result shows a single Aafreen Pradhyuman and it is none other than my friend Aafreen. I keenly observe her profile picture to make sure it is her.
“It is her! I..I can’t believe this.” I am murmuring to myself. “Why has she named her profile as Aafreen Pradhyuman? Did they get married? Or are they secretly married?”
“Bhavana, what are you mumbling to yourself?” my mom asks me. I forget that she is in my room.
“Nothing, Ma. Just cursing. I have too many Candy Crush requests in my notifications and it’s irritating me. That’s why.”
I turn back to my laptop screen and stare at Aafreen’s profile picture. No doubt, it is her. The rest of her profile is completely secure. There are no more photos or information about her. To my surprise, I find that she has created her profile only a week before. I start to debate within myself whether to send her a friend request.
‘No, I should not. Or else she would come to know that I had intentionally searched for her, because the search result holds only a single profile in her name. So she would turn suspicious.’ I think. The entire Facebook episode turns out to be a debacle. Things are getting even more mysterious. Just then, my mobile beeps with a message. I pick it up and open it. It is from Yuvan, the cheater.
Yuvan: hey bhavana, wassup?
‘How dare he send me a message after a shameless breakup?’ I think.
Me: who are u?
There is no reply for a few minutes. Then my mobile beeps again.
Yuvan: hey it’s me Yuvan.have u forgot me?
Me: which Yuvan?
Yuvan: i know tat u r angry bhavana.but let past be past.let us be frnds at least.
Me: sorry i don’t know any Yuvan.i think u r msging to wrong no.don’t disturb me.
Yuvan: bhavana i know u r acting.
At that moment, anger sears through my nerves. I don’t want Yuvan anymore in my life. He had cheated me. Broke my heart into millions of pieces. Yet again, he is here with his cool playboy attitude. I dial his number and he picks up in an instant.
“Hello Bhavana…”He begins in a singsong voice.
“Shut up! You son of a…….I hope you can fill it. I don’t want to use cuss words.”
“What the hell are you talking, Bhavana?”
“I said shut up! Just listen to me. Once again if you dare to text me, you will be behind the bars.”
“How dare you message me? Aren’t you feeling ashamed? You threw me away for another girl. How could you text me so casually?”
“I thought you would have forgotten about it. I wanted to stay as your friend.”
“I can’t be friends with a bloody scumbag like you!” I yell.
“What makes you talk like this, Bhavana?”
“You are making me talk, idiot! Just get lost! Never ever try to contact me anymore. I will handover you to police, casting false accusations on you. I will even produce false witnesses. You don’t know about me. I am Bhavana! Not a timid girl as you think….”
I hear the phone click. This is enough to put the misogynist Yuvan off. I throw my mobile away and take a long deep breath to dry away my anger. I feel relieved and happy. Just then, I hear the clock strike 4 p.m.
‘I have to meet Pradhyuman in Durga Devi Temple at 5 p.m. I wonder what he is up to. I want the mystery to be solved as soon as possible. I need answers.’
“Ma, I am going to Reema Di’s house. She called me to her place to discuss something about her course. Shall I go?”
“Yes dear, you can. But do reach home soon.”
“Yeah, sure, Ma. Bye.” I gather my purse and leave the house.
It is 4.30 when I reach Durga Devi Temple. I devote the half an hour for going around the temple and worshipping all the deities. Then, I find a comfortable location to sit and wait for Pradhyuman. My anticipating eyes are adhered to the temple’s entrance. It is 5.05 p.m. There is no sign of him. Five more minutes pass by. I think, ‘Maybe he has forgotten about the meeting.’ I decide to go back home.
“Bhavana, where are you going?” I hear a voice behind me, just as I stand up to go. I turn around and see Pradhyuman.
“Oh, Pradhyuman. I thought you won’t be coming.” Just then, I notice a small brown duffel bag in his hand.
“How can I forget? I can never forget anything.” He sits beside me.
I turn to face him and ask, “How are you?”
“I am fine. And you?”
“I am fine, too.”
“Jairam?” Tears well up in my eyes.
“Don’t cry. I have got something for you which might be useful to you.” He shoves the bag onto my hands.
“Don’t open it here. Go home and see for yourself.”
“Okay, I will.” I politely accept his request.
“Okay, I am leaving now.” He stands up.
“What about Aafreen?” I blurt out.
“Yeah, we are going to elope tomorrow and get married.” He replies casually.
“What?” almost spit out.
“Yes, any problem?”
“Bye. My work is over. I need to go.” He turns and leaves.
“Pradhyuman!” I call out to him. But he pays no heed.
I clutch the bag in my right hand and leave the temple premises. It is all enigmatic. I cannot make out what is happening.
A cut to the present or whatever you think this is. 😉