That Sunday Morning – Prologue
“Hello!!!” I uttered this customary greeting, while still in sleep, rubbing my eyes with my right hand and holding the phone with my left, as I half sat up on the bed supporting my back with the backrest. The bedside clock which was a part of photo frame holding mine and Kritika’s graduation photo, showed quarter to seven on it.
“Hello, is this Aryan?”
“Yes, speaking.”I was in no mood for a chit chat. As this was Sunday morning and it was uncustomary for us to leave our bed before 10, until of course either of us had to answer the nature’s call.
“Aryan, this is Ghosh Ma’am, do you recognize me.”
“WHAT!!!” I screamed in horror. This couldn’t be true. I must be dreaming. Just the mention of her name was enough to knock me out of my sleep. I sat up in complete bewilderment. I thought it was over, it was dead and I did everything I could to do forget it. In past four years, I was pretty successful in doing that.
“You are….Pri….Pri….” My voice trailed away. For me it was as if I just heard a ghost. Though, I was sure she was alive in flesh and blood.
“Yes, I am Priya’s mother. It pains me to call you like this. I know, I didn’t even call you once in the past four years, but I didn’t have any option. I myself felt guilty for what my daughter did.”
“I understand ma’am, I don’t blame you. But, what happened suddenly after four years that made you call me?”
“Well, son it wasn’t me, Priya wanted me to call you. She said she still didn’t know how you would react and hence told me to call you up.”
“I very well understand that, but what is it that made you call me.”
“Well, hear it from her.”
“Hello!!! Aryan!!!” Hearing this voice after four years, left me in an emotional dilemma. I didn’t understand what I was supposed to feel. Anger, love, ego, hatred, I had no idea. What I was feeling was a cocktail of all of them, a very painful cocktail.
“You still there.”
“Please talk to me, I know you are there.”
“Hello.” I was composed by now, there was no way I would go weak in front of her. Again.
“How are you?”
“Enough of how are you shit, you didn’t care to know whether I was dead or alive in past four years. Come to the point why did you call me.”
“I want you to come to Kolkata, as soon as possible. Please. I want to see you once.”
Come to Kolkata, was she nuts?
“Why should I?”
“Aryan, please baby, I know I didn’t call you even once after that day. I changed my SIM. It was all my fault. If I were you, I wouldn’t have even talked for this long on phone. You have every right to hate me, but please come to Kolkata.”
“Aryan, just like I feared on the day of break up, life has completed a full circle, what I did to you has happened to me. I had paid my dues with highest possible interest.”
“So what am I supposed to do? If you seek forgiveness, then I forgive you. What is the need of seeing each other?”
“Aryan, it is not that, I don’t expect you to come back to me. What has happened has happened. But please come to meet me once, I can’t explain it on phone. I know you still feel for me.”
“Shut up!! You bi….” This anger of mine was to cover up for the truth that she had just spoken about. Though I had almost forgotten about her, but the bitter truth was even after four fucking long years, I had to admit that, though I didn’t love her but still had a soft corner for her. Somewhere deep inside my heart, there was a place which still cared for her. But I hated myself for that.
“Yes you can call me whatever you want, but please do visit me. Trust me I don’t expect anything from you. But I need you to come here to my home.”
“But I am working right now, I can’t manage a leave.”
“I expected you to be employed by this time. I don’t want to force you. But I am sure you can manage a couple of day’s leave.”
“I can’t guarantee, but I will give it a thought.”
“Anyways, I can’t talk any longer got to go.”
I took couple of deep breaths and then turned my head to my right to see, Kritika fully awake and staring at me with tears in her eyes. Her lips were curled up and her hands were clutching the pillow tightly.
“It was she? Right!” She said this and placed one of her hands underneath my chin and lifted my head up to make me look into her eyes. I was at a loss of words. “Aryan. Answer me. Was it her on the phone.”
“What the fuck! Give me your phone, I am calling her up. She has no right to do this.” She said this and snatched my mobile phone.
“Hey, what did she do?”
“She made you upset. She brought tears to my baby’s eyes. Give me her number Aryan.”
Oh shit! I didn’t realize that I was crying. This wasn’t happening. Even after four years, here I am, crying because of her.
“Listen baby, It isn’t her fault. She called up to ask a favour.”
“Favour. What favour? Is she dying, even if she is, what is it that she wants from you now?”
“Nothing, she wants me to come over to Kolkata, as soon as possible.”
“What!! And what did you say?” She said this with a solemn and shocked look on her face.
“I said I will see.”
“WHAT!!! I don’t expect this, after everything I did for you.”
She said this and got off the bed. She ran out of the room in her white night gown. In general neither of us lost our temper. So If she was in tears, it meant that something had really hurt her. I got up and followed her to the balcony.
“Baby, listen I didn’t say that I was going.”
“Please Aryan leave me alone.” She said this turning her face away from me.
I stood behind her, put my arms around her waist, kissed her shoulder and sniffed her neck,
“At least, let’s sit and talk. I promise, I will explain everything to you.”
“It’s ok, get off me, you filthy dog.” This meant she was ok, at least temporarily.
“I am not leaving my bitch.” I said this and bit her tenderly on her neck, leaving a pink love bite there.
She pushed me away and ran off saying a seductive “Fuck off”.
I took the bait and ran after her, caught her, and pushed her on the bed.
“Get away, you are not getting anything today.”
As soon as I climbed the bed, I caught her with my left hand, pulled her to myself, pinned her to the bed and got on top of her, using my weight to keep her from escaping. Smiling, she pulled my head and her lips attacked mine. Our tongues met inside the lip lock, she bit my lower lip, scrapping her teeth on it. I pressed my left hand on her hip. Just as I had started to pull her gown up and gained some momentum, she suddenly went still, broke the smooch, looked in to my eyes and said.
“Wait Aryan, tell me what did she tell you?”
“Kritika. Please. I already told you once.” This was the last thing I wanted to talk about. I got up from the bed and went to the wash room to brush.
As expected she walked to the bathroom, I could see it on the mirror that she had resumed her crying.
“Aryan, you can’t do this to me. I took you out of what you were. You can’t keep me in dark about the past. I want to know about how Aryan grew up? Where he went to school? Who were his friends? Where he played soccer? How was his childhood? And more importantly everything about that……..I don’t want to name her. Everything.”
I spat out a mouth full of Colgate lather in the washbasin, looked up in the mirror and said “Baby please stop crying, you go and make some tea for us. I promise I will be back in a minute and tell you everything, I mean everything about those 25 months. ”
“Remember you just promised.” She said this and went away, putting a temporary stop to the stream of tears flowing down her cheeks.
I had to tell her everything today, I had expected that I will have to do it someday, but later the better. I needed to prepare myself. I had to buy some time.
“Nice tea kitty. I mean at least this time it is smelling like tea, next time maybe it will taste like one too.”
“Aryan, be serious.” We were sitting on two separate couch facing each other, with our centre table in the middle.
“Ok, listen I don’t know from where to start, but let me first tell you about the conversation today. Her mom called up, introduced herself and gave the phone to her. I guess you must have heard most of it. Priya at first broke down on the phone and asked me how I was and apologized for everything. She then made a request, I can’t trace its reason though, to come down to Kolkata as soon as possible.”
“Ya, I know that, but why all of a sudden. More importantly, does she know that you are committed?”
“I guess no. She told me to come over to Kolkata as she wanted to say a few things to me, which she couldn’t tell to me on telephone.”
“She is insane, she invited you to Kolkata and even expected you to agree.”
“Well, you are right.” I had to agree with her, she had already had her share of tears today. But my reply wasn’t convincing enough I guess I wasn’t a good actor when required.
“Aryan, look at me, you still love her, don’t you.” She was again on the verge of tears.
“No, hell no. Please darling, please I don’t love her.” I went over to her couch, buried her head on my chest.
“Trust me kitty, I don’t love her. Trust me. It is just that…” I continued.
“What is it Aryan.” She said this and sat up straight on the couch, looked at me and continued.” Aryan, we know we both have been absolutely honest to each other. You have many a times compromised for me and my happiness so have I. Don’t let a girl disrupt our life like this. Tell me frankly, what you are feeling? Do you really want to go to Kolkata?”
“To be honest Kritika, I don’t love her. But at the same time I am inquisitive about her. The way she said it to me, I think she really may be in trouble and maybe needs my or rather our help. I think we should go there not thinking of her as my ex lover but someone that I know and needs my help in some way. In any case your word will be final. Since, you have done everything to keep me happy, then I guess you have every right on this decision.” I said this and planted a kiss on her forehead.
She rose up from there, looking lost in thought. She stood on the balcony door, her night gown flowing in the wind. She looked back and said, “Aryan, do you know what hurts, It has been three and a half years that we are in this relationship, and you have done everything to keep me happy, you are a perfect boyfriend, I really don’t have any complains, but it is your past!! Why do you hide it? When I came into your life you told me that the only condition was that I won’t ask you about your past. I have kept my word till date, but now it is getting hard for me. It is your choice whether you want to reveal it or not. Trust me I won’t judge you for it. I have stayed with you for three and half years and I know the kind of person you are, trust me it won’t affect our relationship, It will only….. I think strengthen it. If you tell me everyhting then, we will leave for Kolkata at the earliest.”
This is true, right in the beginning of our relationship, I told her that I would be a good enough boyfriend but I had only two conditions, first, she should never enquire about my past. Even I won’t ask, it was her wish if she wanted to tell me anything about her past. Second, I wouldn’t commit, till my career was sorted out.
I gave it a thought, even if I told her everything about my past what could go wrong. Nothing. I loved her and so did she.
“Thanks a ton for allowing me to go, I will tell you everything, but if you don’t mind can we start for Kolkata today. I will tell you everything on the train.Every detail of it. I promise.”
“You don’t need to say so many I promises and, I trust yous.”
“Is that a yes, my kitty.”
“I don’t know, now go and make me some breakfast, I am starving.”
“Okey dokey, bread and sausages coming up.”
I was the usual Sunday cook, on working days we ate lunch at our respective office canteen and maid cooked the dinner. Kitty’s cooking was, to be modest, on the inedible side. She was learning though. I had once told her jokingly that we didn’t have a future until she could cook like my mom.
It had been couple of years since we both graduated out of engineering colleges. We had both got jobs through campus recruitment. We both were also preparing for GMAT.
Since, both our jobs were in Gurgaon, we were staying in my apartment in Gurgaon, near the ISBT. Since, my father brought this apartment five years ago, it was adequately furnished and hence, we had enough money at our disposal to lead a comfortable, if not a luxurious life.
I called up my travel agent and booked couple of second A.C. tickets on the Rajdhani Express from New Delhi to Kolkata. I would have of course preferred the cheaper third A.C., but as expected even getting a couple of second A.C. tickets on tatkal quota was a sheer stroke of luck. That day was spent completely in packing for a three day trip to my home town. Though we would meet Priya on Monday itself, then we had planned to do a bit of sightseeing and shopping. I was to take this opportunity to show her around my hometown.
“Darling we are getting late, make it quick.” It was already half past three and our train was at sharp 5 in the evening.
“Just 5 more minutes.”
That meant 15. I switched on my TV to Stars Sports to watch Rooney score against Arsenal. Man U is my favouritre club from the time I was born and was first introduced to this beautiful game, and I am pretty sure it will be my favourite till I die. Since it was highlights, Rooney was going to head a second one when ‘bleep’ the TV went off, the culprit was none other than Kritika, she once told me that she envied the whole Man U team more than any other girl in this world.
“Your boyfriends are playing, eh!” She teased me.
“Why don’t you go and propose one of them I guess, you will be better with one of them.”
“Shut up, anyway are you ready?”
“Ya, I said 5 minutes only.”
“Wow!!! And you meant it too. Mark this day on the calendar, we are going to make an anniversary out of it every year.”
‘Spat.’ Her handbag hit my face.
“There is my luggage, pick them up and bring them downstairs, I am waiting near the cab. Get it.”
I was going to say something about the amount of luggage, but with my face still stinging, I thought it would be rather healthier to give it a miss.
“Ok, ma’am. I will be there.”
Delhi Railway station was as usual crowded. After getting down, I withdrew some cash from a nearby ATM.
During my childhood days I found train journey to be monotonous. But as I grew up, thanks to my father’s hard work and promotions, we chucked Indian Railways and used the aerial route instead.
But now having Kitty with me, made this train journey seem inviting.
The train was already waiting at the platform, since this was a terminal station. We boarded the train. In second AC compartments there were four bunks instead of six. Luckily and quite unexpectedly, the other two bunks were empty. Later TT told us that someone is expected to come at Dhanbad, and that would be early morning. We settled down with our luggage, a big suitcase and handbag. Both carried her belongings, and a small suitcase that had mine. Along with this there was also a carry all hand bag, which virtually carried everything. I had once made a peek-a-boo into it and was surprised by the amount of trash girls carry with them. I yawned couple of times, spread my arms out and laid down on the lower berth, pretending to fall asleep.
“What was this for?”
“You don’t want to tell anything to me right. You tricked me into coming here.” She said this and started crying.
There she goes again, this is so irritating, girls can cry their way into almost anything.
“No, baby I was just about to. I just felt a bit sleepy.”
“Aryan, I am serious, get up.”
She meant business. I got up sat across her. I crossed my legs on the berth, lay back a bit and thought for a minute.
Right then, our tea and snacks arrived. Lucky break for me because till then I hadn’t thought of how to tell her about my ex, who was then almost virtually everything for me. We finished our tea in silence, she was still fuming as I hadn’t spoken a single word.
“Ok fine, listen, if this is what you want.” I said this, sensing another session of you-tricked-me tears from her.