“God! I’ve been waiting for you since the last 15 minutes. Where were you man?”. Her enquiry brought me back to my senses. It reminded me that I had just lied to a girl about my identity; if something goes wrong then I am in big trouble.
“The…the traffic, you know how it is here”, I tried telling the conventional answers to stay safe.
“Ya… I know…Sorry, I exploded on you. Its just that I hate being put on wait”, She explained.
“Its ok. I am used to being shouted upon “, A series of pictures flashed across my mind wherein Vidushi’s dad caught me proposing her for the fourth time. More on that later !
Denny, you son of a gun ! What the hell are you saying !! Keep it simple, brother !
“Shall we leave then?”, She asked.
“Umm…Yes”, I followed her to the door and on my way signaled my friends to go back to the hostel. I could see the expression on the guy’s faces. It said “Aahaa! Udaipur has conquered Mumbai”. Vidushi winked at me and mouthed all the best. And all that I could do was to keep on repeating to myself, “My name is Kritik, my name is Kritik, my name is Kritik…”
We were in a cab now, heading towards some place I had no idea about.
“So Kritik, how’s Mumbai been treating you?”
“Its been great, Juhu, Bandra, Marine Drive, the people, the spirit of the city…all has been great”, I answered, again trying to stay within the safe territories.
“You sound like the thousands of magazines and newspapers that write about Mumbai. You havent seen much of it, have you?”, She enquired.
“No… didnt get a chance actually”, I tried to smile to cover up my blooper.
“Then why are you wasting your weekend with a freak like me?”
“You seem fun too”, I said sheepishly. Was I flirting with her? I hope so, atleast that’s what I had intended to.
“Mr. Kritik! You are in Zaisha’s custody now. I promise to give you the best three hours of your life”, She exclaimed.
The cab came to a halt infront of a church.
“Tomorrow is a big day for me. I want to seek His blessings. Come along, wont take more than a 5 minutes”
“No problem”, I tagged along.
We entered the church together. It looked like the hundreds of churches that I have been to before. Nothing too fancy, nothing too subtle either.
“They say that, when you visit a particular church for the first time, the Lord grants you a wish”, She seemed excited to impart all this wisdom to me, the funny part being that she was totally unaware of the fact that I was actually a catholic. All these things were spoonfed to me along with my cerelac when I was a child.
“Is that so? I didn’t know that”, I tried to be Kritik to stay safe. “So is this your first visit here? “, I asked.
“Yes, I didn’t want to take any chances.” she smiled and turned towards the altar, knelt down and started praying.
I observed her from a distance and got a chance to look at her at a stretch. She had the looks to die for, her talks were too innocent for her age, she seemed like THE girl, the ONE that some await their entire life. I thought that she was worth the risk that I had undertaken.
She got up and asked me, “Shall we leave?”
“Hold on”, I said and closed my eyes and prayed “Oh Lord, May I win this bet without getting into any trouble.”
The next place on the itinerary was a mall. She wanted to shop for a gown. She would keep changing from one gown to another and I was supposed to rate her appearance. I loved this new job of mine. I enjoyed every bit of it. She zeroed down to a white gown and went to the billing counter.
“Hey! Sorry yaar, but could you do me a favour?”, She asked
“Ya, Why not. Tell me what it is?”
“I want to buy this gown very badly but I am running short of five hundred bucks. Could you lend me some cash. I’ll return it back to you, first thing tomorrow morning” ,Her attempts to look cuter than her actual self succeeded.
I flinched for a moment. That was the exact amount of money I had in my pocket.
“Hey sure that’s not a problem. Here you go.” I handed her the cash. What can I say, Kritik’s got to do what Kritik’s got to do.
Devoid of any money, we headed the streets. Walking on a very isolated stretch of road.
“Do you feel what Siddharth did was fair to me?” She asked me.
Now this was getting beyond the capacity of my tiny brain. Who the hell was Siddharth?
“I dont know for sure… I mean…”
She interrupted me in between. “You all guys are the same man. You’ll never understand what we need. You don’t get the subtle indications, Do you?”, She asked.
“No, Zaisha. Its not like that. What I mean is…” I didn’t know what to say. I reminded myself that I was Kritik and not Denny.
She looked at me for a while and then held her arms wide open. We hugged for a while and then she said “I owe you one man.”, She took off her bracelet and handed it over to me. “This is to remind you of this night when you helped Zaisha buy her favourite gown”. She winked at me. She wanted to cry. I could sense it from her broken voice and shaky hands. I held her hand as we continued walking. I thought that was all I could do as Kritik.
“Are you ok Zaisha?” I asked
“I’ll be fine. Just need to buy my medicines”, She answered
The word “buy” sent a chill down my spine. How were we supposed to buy anything. We were both out of money. I wanted to talk some sense into her but then realized she was too emotional at the moment for it and besides this was an opportunity to become the hero who saves the day.
“Tell me the name of the medicine, I’ll tell the shopkeepers to lend me one. I don’t think they would mind giving me one tablet”, I suggested.
“Aray but I need a whole strip of it”, She objected.
“Can’t we just get one dose for you?”
“Get me a strip, please please please. I’ll do anything for you in return. Please do it”.
I guess its really predictable as to what happened next. The next thing I remember was running as fast as my legs could carry me, with a bunch of strips of Zalepon (the medicine) in my hands and a chemist running behind me with a rod. I outran him after 5 minutes and ran back to the same spot where I had left Zaisha.
“Oh, you are so cute Kritik. Thanks a lot man”, She said.
I wanted to say a million things but all the running had tired me down so much and I didnt want to pant so heavily in front of her and spoil all my heroism and attitude. I thought now it was time to ask her to do something in return for the medicine. She had promised that she would do anything. Just as I was going to mention it she said,“Its rather late man. I need to go. I dont want to piss Sidharth any further”, She smiled.
“Ahh…Off course. Never piss Siddharth”, I smiled back.
If ever i got a chance to meet this Siddharth, I am gonna kill the bastard.
“I’ll walk to home by myself”, she said
“Are you sure its safe”, I asked.
“Oh, that’s no problem, Its here only. I can walk the rest on my own.”, She assured me back.
“Fine, you leave then, I’ll make a move too”, I said and we began to depart. I turned back and shouted “Hey, Zaisha!!! Which place is this?”
“Badhwar Park, Colaba”, she said.
“Thanks a lot for the awesome night”, I said.
“My pleasure”, she shouted back.
I resumed walking, took out my cell phone and called my friends to the place to pick me up. They came in an hour. They were all very excited to know my story. I promised I would tell it to them later. I didn’t feel like talking then. I was thinking about the whole encounter. Zaisha was probably with Sidharth now. She’ll come to know very soon that she met the wrong guy. I knew the place where she lived but going there now would mean more trouble. The night began with a beautiful promise. I had the best time that I had ever spent with a girl. Regardless of how badly I wanted her in my life, she would never be mine now. She had fulfilled her promise. I had had the best three hours of my life but now it was all over. God had heard my prayer that night: I had won the bet. I closed my eyes and prayed to God to fulfill whatever Zaisha had asked for that night.
The next morning, I was still hungover at the last night’s incident. Nitin and Gaurav were busy packing as we had an afternoon train to catch. I didn’t feel like doing any work so i did what everybody does to look busy. I started reading the newspaper. As I scanned past the national news section, a heading in the local section of the newpaper caught my attention.
“Girl Commits Suicide by Drug Overdose”
The report said that a girl named Zaisha, wearing a white wedding gown was found dead in her home due to Zalepon overdose. Police took her fiance Siddharth Mukherjee into custody under the suspicion that he abbetted the suicide. The girl’s neighbour told police that she and her fiance were having a rough time together recently and would often engage in fights. Meanwhile Siddharth’s brother Kritik Mukherjee, who incidentally had just arrived a day before from Kolkata had applied for his brother’s bail.
I felt a shock deep within me. I wouldn’t ever be able to forgive myself for that fateful day. Because of my stupidity, Zaisha thought I was Kritik. Maybe she expected better sympathy from him. Maybe she would have changed her decision….May be … I would never know. We left Mumbai in the afternoon. I didn’t talk to anyone during the entire journey. As I headed back to Udaipur, all that remained now of Zaisha was a story in a local newspaper, a story in my blog and a bracelet in my pocket.
Special thanks to Vishal for editing the post and adding the “Vishal factor” to it 🙂
Readers please comment and let me know your first thoughts on reading this. And once again, please DO mention your real name…makes much more sense that way 🙂