Recap: Yasmin opens up with Chandni and Saloni and reveals a dark secret from her past. They console her and promise her to find a way out.
“I have a plan.” Saloni told Chandni and whispered something into Chandni’s ear while going back to her room. Chandni nodded and went back inside her room. Slightly before dawn, Chandni made Yasmin sleep and slept herself.
10th April – the day of Marriage
Paridhi and Yasmin were not accompanied by Saloni and Chandni during the breakfast. Upon asking a few people, they came to know that Saloni and Chandni had borrowed a car from Inayat’s father because they had some urgent work. Yasmin had a clear notion that her friends have gone out to rescue her, but was unsure about their plan.
“Chandni…” Saloni called her from behind.
“Yeah… How much time it will take?” Chandni asked Saloni while filling herself a glass of water.
“He……….. Wasn’t the right guy for you no matter how much you loved him or……… how much love he showed.” Saloni spoke with her hands folded.
Chandni was startled at this unexpected sentence from her. She crushed her disposable glass, threw it in the bin and said “It’s a bygone Saloni. Let’s not get into it now.” She tried to conceal her anger and started walking.
“If it is a bygone then why do I keep getting sarcastic remarks from you huh? Why do you keep me on the radar always?” Saloni shot back but Chandni did not respond and kept walking.
“Babe, we need to sort this out… God knows when we will ever get a chance to be face to face again.” Saloni held her hand to stop her.
Chandni freed her hand from Saloni’s grip and said “If my fate would allow, I’d never want to see you again.” Chandni said with utmost contempt and walked away.
“It was him who cheated on you, not me.” Saloni shouted but Chandni showed her the middle finger and walked away.
This got Saloni furious and she ran behind Chandni. She grabbed her hand and started climbing stairs with her.
This act made Chandni furious as well and she shouted “leave my hand u bit*h. Just go away.” But Saloni didn’t listen. Finally they reached a corner area in the hospital and Saloni released her grip on Chandni’s wrist.
“What do you want huh? Isn’t your ego satiated by breaking my heart once that you want me to recall it once more.” Chandni said furiously.
“Look Chandni! You’ve got the whole idea wrong – always. … And this is the fu*king problem with you man… you believe whatever you perceive and not what is true…. You never let others give you an explanation and you just make a perception of what you saw, heard or noticed.”
“It has been 8 years now and I want to clarify everything right here, right now… do you get that… I know you will not let me explain, nevertheless I don’t care this time… you get that… I fu*k don’t care.” Saloni said and paused and they looked each other with fuming eyes.
“Okay… so tell me what’s your part of story or what’s your truth? I am all ears.” Chandni said sarcastically.
“My truth is real truth.” Saloni replied back and paused.
“You always believed that Ankur and you are made for each other… Didn’t you? All of us believed the same. Both of you looked very cute together and we always knew that you both will marry…. Little did I know that Ankur isn’t as serious as you in the relationship.” Saloni sighed and continued.
“You used to call me a coquette in college… I still am a coquette provided I am involved with people of same taste… but I won’t ever betray my own people… That’s not my style.” Saloni’s voice quivered with the last statement.
“Cut the crap and come to the point straight. There is a wedding we have to attend and there are people waiting for us.” Chandni was too cross.
Saloni stood up and started speaking “I was getting indirect hints from Ankur that he is interested in me when we started interning in the same organization. Because earlier, he and I used to talk in the presence of everyone or per se in your presence and those talks were quite simple. Little bit of leg pulling, little bit on classroom sessions but during internship, he showed different colors. He used to bring me coffee on my desk or ping me for having lunch together. It was fine being friends until the day when he told me something which was unbelievable for me…. Don’t you want to know what did he say?”
“Tell me” Chandni replied with the same old expression.
“He and I went to the cafeteria for evening tea and there he told me that there are problems between you and him.” Upon my surprised expression, he continued that you won’t tell that to any of the SPICY because the problem has developed because of you.”
“What problem?” Chandni asked.
“He told me that both of you keep having arguments because you have become way too possessive about him and keep doubting on him. He also mentioned that you indulged into a fight with one of his old female friend when you went to a restaurant with a couple of his friends. You thought that she was flirting with Ankur and indulged into an awkward argument there.”
“This is all untrue. It has never happened. You are lying so that you can spoil Ankur’s image in my sight.” Chandni interrupted.
“The chapter is yet to be finished baby… hold your horses and let me continue.” Saloni said and Chandni was miffed on her statement.
“Ankur and my talks continued with the internship and we grew closer than usual to each other. At times, we used to do some sweet chat on SMS in the late night and it used to make me feel special because no one ever had approached me like that before, or say I was too bold for the world to do those cute, cuddling conversations… But he always told me that I should not ever reveal this to you as it would make you doubt on us both… His reason never convinced me completely but still I followed it because I did not want to lose on the attention that I was getting from him.”
“On the last day of internship, he threw a BYOB party at his place and invited me for it. Since you were not in Delhi, but at your home in Agra that day, I simply asked him that why is he throwing this party in your absence to which he replied “It is not necessary that Chandni has to be a part of everything I do. Certain things are for my personal enjoyment.” He winked and left… I was unaware of his real intentions and therefore I dressed up in my typical style of partying in a mini skirt and strappy top. I had got very late for the party and was thinking that Ankur would be angry as to why I turned up so late but upon reaching there, I saw a different scene altogether.” Saloni said.
“What?” Chandni asked.
“There was no one in the house except Ankur, not even his roomie. His one room apartment was aromatic with the candles instead of cigarette smoke and there was soft music playing instead of loud hip hop. My intuition warned me of something shady.”
“This does not look like a party dude. I guess I have come to the wrong place.” I giggled and hugged him.” His hug felt tighter than earlier this time and therefore I released myself quickly and handed over the booze bottle to him.”
“So is everyone arriving late or what.” I asked”
“No one is arriving.” Ankur said and looked at me to which I gave him a questioning look.”
“Well, this party is only for you and me.” he said and put his fist in his jeans front pockets.”
“Ohkay…and why do you think we should have this party?” I asked him again.”
“Because this party is in honour of our friendship.” He said and dragged me to dance on the soft music.”
“I hope you are not trying to hit on me.” I asked him in a casual way.”
“Do I need to..?” he quickly replied and laughed”
“We danced for some time and then opened the booze and had random talks while drinking. I observed Ankur noticing me from head to toe a few times and was doubtful about his intentions and therefore I had decided that I will drink limited so that I do not lose my senses.”
Saloni said and looked at Chandni who was staring at an object in other direction with her lips tightly sealed. It indicated that whatever Saloni uttered, it was unbearable for her. But Saloni decided to continue.
“So when the clock struck 1, I decided to leave but Ankur told me to stay as it is midnight now and I should not go alone at this moment. I told him it is not the first time I am going alone at this point in night and I have my friend’s car and therefore he does not need to worry but he insisted me to stay for some more time.”
“Okay 5 more minutes, if you say so” “I said and he smiled and changed the party songs to a romantic number and asked for my hand. I gave him my hand and we started with simple ballroom dancing again. But this dance was much different from the earlier one because now he kept me closer to him and looked me eye to eye and suddenly whispered in my ear “I have not seen a beautiful girl like you before.”
“Your girlfriend is the most beautiful girl in the college.” I reminded him.”
“Indeed she is beautiful but you are a rare combination Saloni. You are beauty with brains. You know how to enjoy life, how to be with people…” he said and his hand on my waist suddenly made a grip.”
“You are one hell of a woman Saloni…. Your free spirited mind is the best attraction of your personality. You live your life without keeping regrets, and it attracts me towards you.” He whispered and I released myself from his grip to which he was surprised.”
“Why do I have a feeling that you are going to cheat on Chandni?” I stepped away from him and asked bluntly.”
“Well, it is not like that… I love her from the bottom of my heart. But there is something that I want from her but she does not let me.” Ankur said.”
“And what is it?” I asked him.”
He sighed and said “Well, to cut the long story short, of late you and I have been spending good time together… both of us enjoy each other’s companionship and I think we can take it forward by having a pleasure that we both enjoy – without having any strings attached… because I don’t get that pleasure from Chandni… She is a typical Indian girl who believes in losing her virginity only to her husband. And frankly, I am not looking forward to a marriage for the coming 3-4 years and that doesn’t mean that I have to wait for 3-4 years to satiate my hunger. Of course, I love her a lot but if I do not get something from the woman I love, obviously I will start looking out.” Ankur said all that with a shameless expression on his face and I kept looking at him with folded hands.”
“Wow! So you want me to be your side chick huh!?” I scoffed and he looked at me.”
“Sorry dude, but I am not interested in betraying my friend.” I said and walked out of his house.”
“I sat in my car… what had just happened kept me boggled all through the way… Now those midnight sweet text conversations, small caring gestures of bringing coffee, your comparison with me… everything pointed towards only one thing that he did all this to bring me closer to him. Because I don’t believe into committed relationships, he thought that he can try his luck to have sexual pleasure from me…” Saloni’s voice again quivered.
“I was bewildered about whether to inform you about this whole thing or not. But I realized that you are truly in love with him and perhaps he’ll realize his mistake…. And because I said NO to him, he will never approach any girl for this purpose in future… So I decided to stay mum.”
“Next morning, when I woke up there were more than a dozen missed calls from him but I did not call him back even once. I received several texts from him that he wanted to apologise to me in person but I ignored those texts.”
“And after 2 days, when all of us were back in college, he sat with you during the classes but kept gazing at me. Because he was afraid that I might reveal to you what happened between him and me 2 days back. And later…”
“Later… I received those photos and videos on MMS from an unknown number in which you and him were dancing, drinking and having a ball in his house alone…. With a note that both of you are having a secret affair and consequently I confronted you both” Chandni completed Saloni’s sentence and pondered.
“It has been more than 8 years Saloni. Why are you telling me this story now… why do you think I’ll believe you now?” Chandni asked.
Saloni was startled with her dumb question and she scornfully laughed.
“Babe, you really think I…” Saloni pointed her hand towards herself “owed you any explanations?”
“Don’t you see the real picture…? I am not begging for your forgiveness here, but I only want you to clear your head that you have filled with hatred against me. I have never faced a dearth of boys in my life and I was obviously not running behind your fornicator boyfriend … it was him who cooked up the whole story, sent you that fu*king MMS and ruined our friendship. He wanted to get rid of you and therefore he used me as a puppet… had I given into his dirty intentions, it would have worked for him better but since I did not, he turned the story other way round… he was your boyfriend for more than 2 yrs… He knew that if you make an opinion about someone in your head, you tend to not forget and forgive so easily. He made both of us look traitor in your sight which was a win win for him as he got rid of you, but I…. I lost my friend.” Saloni said all that in one breath and took a pause.
“Tell me, when you had a fight with him, did he ever try to convince you the way I have always tried. He left you saying that he is not worthy of you and the whole blame came on me. You created a scene in front of the whole college then, which apparently did not affect anything else but our FRIENDHSHIP” Saloni sighed.
“I hope I have been able to lift the veil now… I can’t explain beyond this” Saloni took a deep breath and walked down the stairs to smoke.
Chandni stood still there. She had a throwback time of all her good, bad and ugly memories. How Ankur had indulged into a fight with a senior who had mistreated Chandni in the initial days of their classes….. How her friends had predicted that he is the Man for her…. How he treated her like a princess and her friends always wished to have a boyfriend like Ankur…. how Ankur used to make a puppy face for a kiss and she used to deny most of the times…. their first kiss in the rain…. He bought a motorbike just so as he could roam around with her anytime anywhere…. their class bunks and spending hours at Hauz Khas fort or Saket, their “desi girl” performance where Ankur played the mainstay and her friends used to pull her leg on every single move that Ankur used to make towards Chandni during rehearsals.
She realized why Ankur’s behavior had started changing when he started with internship, why he used to compare her tiny things with Saloni and eventually why he cheated on her. It was his lust for a female body which dragged him away from her and true love never existed in his mind. Chandni had tears rolling down. She rued the day she fought with Saloni and called her a traitor.
All these years, she had tagged her friend guilty with her cheap boyfriend. A friend who had a contrast personality to hers, but was faithful. Chandni remembered how she cried and yelled the day she had received those MMS. She remembered Saloni trying to explain but she just did not listen and all of them left Saloni alone. How she told Inayat, Paridhi and Yasmin that they have to choose one between her and Saloni because now she can’t stand Saloni and how all of them had tried to calm her down.
Everybody went their way and things changed in life with time. Chandni married and never regretted marrying the man of her parents’ choice. She believed that she has moved on but actually her ego was still alive inside her. And that is why she always thought of keeping herself away from Saloni as much as possible. She remembered how she fired Saloni with words on every single opportunity that she got to which Saloni used to gaze at her but never replied back to invite a fight.
Chandni decided to apologize to her friend. She put herself together, wiped her tears and dialed Saloni but had call waiting. Chandni decided to find her. She went outside but couldn’t find Saloni. She came back inside but didn’t find her there either. She tried her phone again and heard the ring right at the back. Saloni had reached her and she patted her on the back and said “Come on, we need to rush fast.” Saloni dragged Chandni on her elbow and they quickly walked outside.
to be continued….