Read the prologue and the rest of the chapters here: https://kavyajanani.wordpress.com/debut-novel/
The tragic turn
My heart beats raced as I brought the cordless telephone in my hand. My entire family was around me. Yet I was bold enough to take the phone in front of them. No questions were raised. Making sure that nobody suspected anything fishy, I quietly sneaked inside my bedroom. I closed the door behind me. With trembling hands, I dialled the number 91******06.
BANG! The door flung open. It was my grandma.
‘Oh god!’ I threw the phone on the bed and pretended as if I was searching for something.
“What are you searching, Bhavana?” asked my grandma.
“I am searching for my novel.”
“I am searching for the cordless telephone. Have you seen it?”
My family was always searching for something in the home. Losing things was inherited from our ancestors.
“Why? It’s here!” cried my grandma. “Who brought it here?”
“I..I don’t know. I did not notice it lying on the bed.”
‘Did I erase the number before throwing the phone?’
“Okay, I will take it. I need to make a call.”
I keenly observed my grandma’s reactions. She looked at the phone’s display and furrowed her eyebrows.
“What’s it, grandma?”
“Nothing. There was a number being displayed over here, but it just vanished before I could see it completely.”
I silently thanked the technology of screen-out in phones. Otherwise I would have been dead if she had noticed the number. She’d be questioning me whether I had dialled any number. Though I was good at lying, she was sharp enough to find out. Our contrasting characters were always a matter of argument. As she left the room, I cursed my luck.
‘Why do bad things happen only to me? Why am I so unlucky? I am desperate to talk to Jairam. My intuition tells me that something bad has happened. When will I get to possess a mobile phone? When the world has technologically advanced, I am still being antiquated.’
The cordless telephone never reached my hands again. It was passed on from grandma to mom and then back to grandma. And their cry saga over the phone continued, with my watching like a hungry puppy.
“Nimmiiiii! I can’t use the landline. I can’t possess a mobile phone. I can’t go out, too. I am just dying over here without knowing what happened to Jairam. As I am involved in the house renovation work, I am not allowed to go out even for a minute. I am not able to sneak out to see him. I am damn sure that he would be angry.” I was pouring out my sorrow to Nimmi, while nibbling at a thread work from my knee-length skirt. I didn’t even stop to inhale some air. Words flowed out due to my desperateness.
“Bhavana, cool down, yaar.” Nimmi’s consoling attitude took over.
“No, I am not able to.”
“I can understand, Bhavana. Nothing to worry. Jairam will surely understand that you are unable to contact him.”
“I am soooo worried, Nimmi. I don’t know what to do. I can’t even take the cordless phone for a minute. It’s either always in use or someone is always around me. I requested Ma to hand it over to me for a minute so that I could call you.”
“Stop grumbling, Bhavana! You will surely get a chance to see Jairam. Don’t worry. Look out for opportunities that might allow you to go out. Okay?”
“Okay Nimmi, I won’t worry. Let me pray to God. Hope something happens soon.” With those words, I hung up. Talking to Nimmi made me feel better. I tried to distract myself from thinking about Jairam. I started to listen to music and temporarily forgot about him.
SPLASH! Someone splashed water on my face.
“Wake up, you silly girl! Sleeping off like a donkey,” yelled my mother.
It was then I realized that I had slept with the earphones and the songs were being played in a loop. I composed myself and stood up.
“Here, take this. I need you to buy these things in the supermarket,” said my mom, shoving a list onto my hand. It was rather a long list and I scanned it slowly.
“The one in the next street. Only that supermarket sells good quality of vegetables. Buy soon and return home. There is much work to do.”
“Okay, Ma. I will be back in 20 minutes,” I assured her.
‘Wow! I think God has listened to my prayers. Now is a chance for me to see Jairam. I will visit his shop and somehow convey my difficulty to him.’
I dressed up soon and dashed out. I was eager to see Jairam after a week. I knew he would be angry that I had not called him, but I could explain and make him understand.
I neared Vaishnavi complex and turned to look inside his shop. Alas! It was closed.
‘What in the world does Ramesh think? He closes off his shop at odd times. Now I won’t be able to see Jairam for yet another week. Not until my mom gives me another list to buy in supermarket.’
I was terribly upset. For a few moments, I let myself get drifted away by his thoughts. As a result, I was 10 minutes late in reaching home after shopping. My mom was cross with me for taking half-an-hour to buy those simple things. I tried to explain to her, but she wouldn’t budge. Finally I gave up and locked myself in the bedroom. I couldn’t give in to silly arguments with her. Once inside, I cried like a baby.
‘Jairam! Where are you? Please tell Ramesh to open the shop. I need to see you. I am dying here. We had just now begun our beautiful journey of love. How could God be so cruel at the beginning itself?’ I was crying my heart out, but there was no one around me to make me feel better. Till then, I had never realized that a 16 year old girl can have such strong feelings of love.
“Are you ready?”
“Yes Ma, just a minute. I am searching for a bindi.”
“It will be in the red box. Come fast. We are getting late.”
Our family had planned for an outing. As my dad was also present, we were going out for a Tamil movie Ayan. It had been a long time since I had watched a movie in theatre. My board exams had kept me busy and I was not finding time for movies or music. So I decided to enjoy the most along with my family.
We got into an auto rickshaw and flew towards Brooks Theatre where we had our tickets booked. While the rickshaw crossed Madhu Textiles & Readymades, I peeped inside to find Jairam. I was relieved that the shop was open, but I couldn’t look for him as the rickshaw moved away in a second. I cursed my luck. By then, I had become accustomed to bad luck.
The movie was an enjoyable one and I loved it. We had dinner at a nearby hotel and as usual, I ordered my favourite chicken fried rice. Briefly I forgot about Jairam and was enjoying with my family, because I was damn sure that I would see him while returning. Soon, we hired yet another rickshaw to home.
As the rickshaw neared Madhu Textiles & Readymades, I moved at the edge of the seat and looked out. Ramesh was closing the shop. There was someone near the bike on which he travelled. I cleared my eyes to see who it was. To my surprise, it was Jairam! I felt heavenly to see him after a long time. My lungs ached to call out to him, but I would surely receive dirty looks from my family. Moreover, I did not want him to get caught in front of Ramesh. I silently thanked the rickshaw driver for slowing down at that juncture. I admired my Jairam for a brief moment before the rickshaw turned towards my street. I felt overjoyed. Though he did not notice me, I felt happy to have a glimpse of him. But he looked as if something was bothering him. The usually smiling Jairam whom I had known was no longer to be seen. He had a look of remorse on his face.
‘What’s bothering him? Sai Baba, please help me to speak to him. Now as dad is here, I am gonna request him for a mobile phone. I just cannot live without speaking to my love.’
After having a meaningful conversation with my dad, he finally agreed to get me a mobile phone. I stated the reason as ‘to take to college’, ‘to gain knowledge through Internet’, etc., The actual reason why I wanted a mobile phone was to be in touch with Jairam and enhance my relationship with him. My innocent dad was unaware of all this. I felt bad about it, but my love for Jairam blinded everything else.
‘What has happened to him? Where is he?’ There were no other thoughts in my mind.
My house renovation work was over and I was allowed to go out. I took my bicycle and rode through the streets in the evening. While returning home, I would take the main road intentionally and peep inside Madhu Textiles & Readymades. Sometimes, I would stop before the shop and just gaze at it, but there would be no sign of Jairam. There were only Ramesh and Pradhyuman. I remembered Jairam saying to Nimmi that he had told everything to Pradhyuman and that he knows me well. I felt urged to go inside, confront him and ask about Jairam, but the presence of Ramesh made me uncomfortable. Occasionally, I called Nimmi and poured out my sob story to her. She listened patiently and provided me with comfort.
However, there was nothing in my favour. I missed Jairam like hell. Added to my troubles was the phone number which he had given me. Whenever I dialled it, I heard, “All services are winged off for this network.” I did not understand what it meant. I had turned crazy. I was suffering from an incurable disease called love, but that love was leading me nowhere. My heart pounded with pain every time I thought about him. All I had was a slight hope that soon I would be able to meet and talk to him.
I cried. My heart cried. My soul cried. And everything around me cried. Life had become hell. There was only sadness in my life. Even music couldn’t uplift me. Nimmi tried a lot but it was in vain. The reason was – Jairam!
He was nowhere to be seen. A month had passed by since I had seen him for the last time on that fateful night. Worse, he had seen me last when I had visited his shop. I couldn’t make out what had happened to him. I vaguely remembered that he was hit by someone from behind on that day when I had purchased at his shop. After that, I couldn’t contact him for a few days. But then, I saw him on the other day when I went for the movie. And that was the last. He had disappeared. Just vanished into thin air!
I replayed those sequences in my mind and tried to find out whether I had missed out on something. It was perfect. Jairam had gone somewhere. And he had no means to convey that to me. I was also not able to contact him. My life took a worse turn and there was no way for me to escape from my chaotic state. I loved him deeply. And that love kept me moving forward with a hope that he would be back soon. A part of me was telling that no miracle can happen. Negativity crept inside my mind as I thought that he would have run away to find some other girl. Those thoughts were driving me into a mildly depressed state, but I was aware that my parents would notice my changed behaviour and question me. So I was trying to cope with my mood swings. Numerous walks by the side of Madhu Textiles & Readymades didn’t help me in coming out of my sorrow. There was only pain in my life. And tears were the only thing that my eyes saw, for most of the time they were clouded and blurred with tears of pain.
“Bhavanaaa..See what I have got for you!” My dad exclaimed with full vigour.
I looked at him, uninterested. I had been crying till he had barged inside my room. I wiped off my tears in an instant and received the parcel from him.
My dad held up my chin and asked, “Have you been crying?”
“No, daddy. I was sleeping. I think I had a nightmare which frightened me. So, I might have probably cried in sleep. When I woke up, I found tears all over my face.” I was quiet an expert in lying.
“Okay dear, open the parcel and have a look.”
I opened it carefully. To my surprise, it was a Sony Ericsson mobile phone. I just stared at it. My heart couldn’t feel happy at the sight of it.
‘What’s the use of a mobile phone when my Jairam is not there?’ I thought.
My dad was earnestly looking at me, hoping to find a tinge of happiness on his daughter’s face, but all he received was a cold stare from me.
“What, dear? Don’t you like the mobile phone?” he asked. And he sounded miserable.
I was on the verge of crying, but I had to fake a smile just for my dad’s sake. I smiled at him and replied, “Daddyyyy..Thanks a lot. I don’t know how to repay you. It’s wonderful and I am sure that I would use it wisely.”
My dad felt glad on hearing those words and left the room. As soon as he left, I burst into another bout of tears. It was difficult for me to wear a fake face when my heart was actually burning with pain. I wrapped the mobile phone back in its box and locked it in my cupboard.
‘There is no use of a mobile phone now’. I thought angrily. Yes, I was angry at God for making my Jairam move away from me.
Nimmi was crying. She was feeling dejected to look at me in that condition. My pain was affecting her. I was lonely most of the time and she did not like that. Though I wished to be left alone for a few days, she kept a constant check on me. It was my turn to console her.
“Nimmi, I am sorry. I won’t mourn over it anymore. I am sorry, dear. Please don’t cry. I will be fine after a few days.”
“How can God be so cruel to you? How can he not support true love? No Bhavana, you are not supposed to undergo this pain. I am not able to see you like this. Shall I visit their shop and enquire about him?”
“Please Nimmi, no need. I promise you I won’t be sad anymore. I will try to make myself happy.”
“I too want you to be happy, Bhavana. But how can you be happy when your happiness is Jairam?”
‘Yes, that is true, Nimmi. Jairam is my happiness. I would rather die than be without him. But I have my other side of life too!’
“I will try to deviate myself from his thoughts. It’s for sure, Nimmi. Life has to move on. I know that. Let Jairam dwell in my heart for how long he wants. I won’t care about that. I will keep concentrating on other things.” Though I had spoken those bravely, tears were ready to burst out from my eyes. My heart was singing a sad tune from inside. I loved him madly, though I didn’t know much about his character. I knew that over time we would grow closer and understand each other very well. I was confident that in spite of our language and caste differences, our love would work towards a successful marriage. I had dreamt of a colourful future with him. But those colours had drained out with his disappearance. My one and a half year old love story had ended very soon, much to my chagrin.
“I am happy to hear these words from you, Bhavana. Make sure you stick to them. I know it will be difficult for you to forget Jairam. He is your first true love. It’s not easy for your heart to let go of him. But you have to make yourself feel better if you want to lead a happy life.”
A single drop of tear flew down from my eye. Even I knew that it would be difficult for me to detach myself from Jairam. It was difficult for me to forget someone who had given me so much to remember. But I had to do it for the sake of my education, family and friends.
A few weeks later, I joined in Rexo Arts and Science College after passing my twelfth grade with decent results while Swapna bid a teary farewell to me and went away to Ahmedabad for an integrated MBA course.
As she said, life moved on.
“Hi, I am Yuvan.” A rather handsome and funky guy was extending his hand for a shake. He was wearing a cool violet t-shirt with the words ‘You can’t catch me!’ and a low hip jean. I wasn’t a sucker for low hip jeans as I thought that it might slip away from the boy’s hip. He had well gelled hair and he had spiked some of the strands. His skin had a lemon yellow tone and his smile could make any girl go gaga over him.
I was reluctant initially. It was just my first day in college and that boy was already hitting upon me.
“Come on! Why don’t you shake hands?” he asked me.
I was put off by his attitude, but I had to make friends. Otherwise I wouldn’t survive in a new environment.
“I am Bhavana.” I gently shook his hand.
“So, would you mind for a coffee in the canteen?”
Now, that was enough for the once-upon-a-time unromantic Bhavana to leap up.
“What do you think about me, Mr.Yuvan? Mind your own business. Don’t mess with me!” I shouted and the entire class turned to look at me.
Yuvan was pissed off. He made faces at me and spoke, “Don’t you dare yell at me once again! I just called you so that we can become friends. Nothing else. Okay?”
I felt embarrassed at my own outburst. Though I was put off by his dominating attitude, I didn’t mind going ahead to hang out with him.
Immediately I apologized, “I am sorry, Yuvan. I..I..didn’t mean to…”
“Don’t stammer. Come, I will buy you the best coffee in the world.”
I was visibly surprised at his easygoing behaviour. I smiled at him. That was the first time I had smiled at a guy other than Jairam.
Yes, of course, Jairam was ruling my life even then. I couldn’t take him out of my heart. He was present everywhere. Sometimes I felt happy at his memories. Sometimes I felt invariably sad. I used to go by his shop, hoping he would have returned, but there was no one else other than Ramesh and his wife. Even Pradhyuman was missing. I created an account in Facebook so that I could find Jairam in it. But he hailed from a sub middle class family and he was less educated than me. It was a silly idea to search for him in Facebook. I tried many people search websites. It was of no use. I had even posted a question in Yahoo Answers stating him as a long lost friend. There were a few replies which said that if I had a Xerox copy of his birth certificate, I can find him. How the hell can I have his birth certificate when I hadn’t even spoken with him properly? There was no Jairam. He was gone forever. It took almost three months for me to realize that. By then, I learnt to cope with the pain. And that made me to move on with my life. The only worry which I had was that my love story ended even before it properly began. I was 17 and that’s why I was able to come out of it. I was immature to understand that it was a true love story and it would surely come back to haunt me.
I got up and walked beside Yuvan towards the canteen. I chatted with him amicably and looked around the college. There were bubbly and smiling faces everywhere. A warm feeling passed inside me.
‘Hope there is a better life waiting for me!’ My heart smiled after a long time.
Well, well, well, I am stopping this here. To know the rest of the story, either wait for the book to be published traditionally or read it here (available for a limited period of time): With Love, Forever.
There are three reasons for discontinuing this tale here:
1. There are no active readers here, though I have a pretty good number of followers.
2. I don’t have much time to juggle between Wattpad and WordPress. Plus, there’s some feedback in the former, while there is no activity in the latter.
3. One must not hang on to their creation for a long time. Six years, too much.