“All journeys have a secret destination of which the traveler is also unaware.”-Martin Buber
Rishi woke up in the morning, hurried up for taking bath, then took a little breakfast type thing and started for his office. Last night had a tough time with Shrija. Finally they broke up their two year ‘live in’ relationship. It was too much and was tightening its grip on the throat in such a way so that getting out of it or atleast taking breath was becoming tough. For the last six months, Rishi has tried to understand Shrija’s situation and tried to have a control over it but nothing has been seen from the other side. Not only this, they have put some conditions for further proceedings and without which nothing was going to happen in real. So he had to stand up and quit. Yes, people may consider him escapist, people may consider him coward but it doesn’t matter whoever is thinking like that. Rishi is Rishi only. He takes his own decision. From very childhood only he was brought up with so many odds, he was challenged, crushed but still then woke up with so much of attitude and deliberation. When all the initial promises took place during their lovely periods, then where were those fucking goats? Even when Rishi tried to make Shrija understand day after day, night after night, then also where those idiots were, now they are criticizing Rishi for his attitude. They are even saying that Rishi can’t settle with any single lady, he is a total flirt type guy, impatient and Rishi says, yes I am, I am impatient, I am playboy, I am flirt and so what? What the fuck you people did for me so can come easily and criticize me. I am what I am and I’m not going to even pay any heed to bleed your fucking asshole.
Rishi & Shrija met each other during their college days while Rishi was doing his Masters and Shrija was in Bachelors for Mass Communication and obviously in different college. Rishi is from north Calcutta and believes in typical social structures and just opposite to Shrija, who is from posh area of South Calcutta and obviously from a higher middle class family where parents are both working and provides good monetary backups for their child.
It was a social night in Shrija’s college where Palash Sen’s renowned musical band Euphoria was the main attraction and for that reason only when Anshu invited Rishi and his gang to enjoy the night with them, he had nothing to do but accept.
Rishi and his whole team was half drunk, as usual in all college social and then while smoking, he noticed a lady smiling and giggling with her friends. She neither has a look like Cleopatra nor personality like Sonia Gandhi but she was having something in her whole body language or in her attitude so that anybody can mark her in a group of mobs also. Rishi smiled and threw the bud of cigarette to rejoin the party. Euphoria took control of the whole audience and made them sing with them, dance with them lost themselves for them and the four hour singing journey completed with their one of the most popular track “saiyoni…chyan ek pal nehi” (O My Love…even a single second without you is impossible).
Rishi met Shrija in a CCD outlet near city centre and that time she was in a violet colored top combined with black jeans. She was talking with a girl, who is even more beautiful than her but somehow Shrija was the attraction of all as she was having the most prominent way of carrying herself rather than showing off assets or acting cheap to become the attraction under lime light. Rishi was not in love with her anyway and obviously in Bengal, love happens suddenly without depending upon the character of the play or situation or even doesn’t pay attention to their choice also. The same thing happened with Rishi while he met Shrija for the 3rd time in one of his friend’s birthday party. Rishi gave thanks to that birthday boy’s parents for delivering such a product on that very special day.
Shrija was jovial, smart and within no time forced Rishi to fall in love with her; but the destiny or the happening was different. May be somebody else was laughing from the heaven. After dinner while everybody was planning to go back, Shrija came closer to Rishi and asked him directly, “I have noticed you noticing me time and again. Is there any problem in me or in you or we can be good friends to explore each other more confidently to make it a reason to smile; what do you say?” Rishi had nothing to say but smile, a smile can say a lot of words without even making a little noise by using tongue. He liked the way Shrija made this happen, one of the most wonderful happening of his life till date.
Everything was wonderful and was moving in right track. They used to spend time in Victoria Memorial, hang out around all the shopping malls in Kolkata and what’s more, with all these things, Rishi got very good marks and secured a job in one of the top rated companies but he would have to shift to Mumbai. Rishi was not happy and ready for that. He was not in a mood to leave Shrija so early, that also within just six months! While all of his relatives, friends were praising for his good result and the job, he was not happy at all. He called Shrija and talked a lot. He said, “Please do something; I can’t leave you right now. I am not happy with this job. I am not gonna join…” and bla bla bla. Shrija didn’t reply a lot, she just listened him and responded softly,” tomorrow at sharp 2pm, we are meeting at Coffee House and hope atleast this time you will be in time.” She disconnected the phone and the monotonous sound of engage tone of mobile sent a silent message to Rishi. Was there anything wrong? Let’s hope not so. He lit a cigarette, threw some ring shaped smoke in the air and again sunk in the thought of Shrija. Why she was so dump while listening to his anxiety, unhappiness? Was there anything wrong or some crack had developed in their relationship without making a little sound or attracting anybodies notice? Rishi was trying his best to float in the cloud, he was walking above those white cotton shaped clouds, a lady was singing a melodious song from some far end and the sweetness of it was filling the heart with more and more anxiety, dissatisfaction. He was feeling that sometime even heavenly touch also fails to cure a small wound. He saw Shrija walking towards him and thus suddenly the cloud disappeared. He walked towards Shrija, exchanged a smile and extended hands to give a warm hug but found she was nowhere. She had been lost, she was lost in the cloud…again cloud has covered the whole floor, Rishi tried to shout, tried to call her by name but someone was resisting him, pushing him hard against all the barriers, suddenly he regained his strength and started shouting, “I love you Shrija, please don’t leave me alone here”. He was shouting at his highest scale but suddenly someone shook him,”oye idiot, what happened? Who is Shrija? Why are you all sweated?” Rishi opened his eye and found his ever irritating, sweet sister was trying to wake him up. He gave a cruel smile at her and said, “good morning”. Who knew whether this goodness of this morning would remain good throughout the day or at 2pm, while Shrija would come to join him for a coffee at coffee house would end up a mere six month relationship, a real soul dependency.
Rishi was tensed and was surprised too. Shrija never ended a telephonic conversation like this. Whatever, he was ready to face any situation. He reached Coffee House, the great place for all college going students, poets and obviously for lovers. Here two men can spend lots of time by just taking two cups of coffee. Rishi took a look of that Albert Hall and found it noisy and crowded as always. Shrija came; she was also looking somehow devastated but smart enough to manage her lipsticks in position and with a smile appeared upon her face as if she’d taken it directly from her handbag and pinned it there. Shrija broke the silence, “only coffee or anything else?” this was a typical ladies behavior. None can guess what a woman will ask and how, even in a typical conditioned situations also. Rishi just nodded his head in accepting the idea of having only coffee. They ordered, the waiter wrote it down and disappeared in between those long tables of his managers. Rishi again tried to have a guess from the behavior of Shrija but found no clue. She took out an envelope, a white one…surely not like a typical marriage invitation card. He took a breath of relief but who knew what she was going to produce in front of him. Again Shrija started saying, “we met each other six months ago and probably promised to stay long to make our relationship against all hurdles but somehow you are professional and have planned to shift to Mumbai for your new job. It’s ok. You have full rights to choose your career and you did so.” She took a pause and Rishi kept his silence as before. She sipped a little water and again started continuing, “I thought a lot and without getting any other way out decided to…”
“…to what? To leave me, to live a life without me, are you serious Shrija? Have you ever thought that how will I be able to live without you? That’s why told you yesterday that I will not accept this new job, let it be a very wonderful opportunity, I will get a lot of these in my life but without taking my consent, without even thinking of the aroma of our relationship, you are here to break this? Why Shrija why?” Rishi spoke out and he was not in his control. His so called control, for which he used to get respect from his friends, relatives and obviously from Shrija, was at stake. He tried to control his emotions and stared away from Shrija. He guessed right. This was to happen. Once he thought of throwing the whole table and to cry in a silent place, all alone. Shrija put her hand on his hand, “neither had I said that I will leave you making an end of our relationship, nor I will resist you to join your new job but I am here to show you a real problem. Please have patience and check this paper out.” She handed over the envelope to Rishi.
Rishi opened it. It was an appointment letter, an appointment letter for a well known farm and what’s more surprising, location was for Mumbai. This was an appointment letter for Shrija. Rishi looked at her face, she was smiling, a wicked smile, not managed smartly through lipstick or with her smartness. Some pearl shaped tears were there in her eyes. She spoke in a husky voice, “you thought that I am here to declare that I will have to leave you, but my dear I am here to say that, if there is a will, there is a way”. She continued, “I can’t live without you and so like you” She broke in cry. Rishi didn’t try to control her, let her shed some tears, some tears of happiness, promises and unbound, unconditional love. The coffee was cold, they ignored it, paid the waiter and walked away of Albert Hall taking each other hand, feeling the warmth. It was raining then, raining heavily. Health conscious people were running for a little shed. They didn’t stop; ignored the rain and started walking in between the road, enjoying the heaven’s blessings.
“Hey Shekhar, how are you?”-Agniv asked with a trapezoidal confusing smile.
Shekhar replied with a smile but didn’t utter a word. He was in some deep thought and failed to hide that from Agniv. He asked immediately, “Hope everything is fine and nothing happened?” Again Shekhar replied with a smile and turned around the chair.
“Rishi and Shrija are parting together” Shekhar said.
“What the hell are you saying?” was the reply of Agniv and he was not feeling good with this thing. Both of them remained silent.
“Actually what happened that forced them to do so? They were the most romantic couple I have ever seen in my life and even I have heard that they are going to marry in the coming January? Exactly what forced them to do so?” Agniv’s quarry was sounding ridiculous somehow.
“Let’s go out”, Shekhar suggested. Even god was confused, how could they solve the puzzle?
Rishi and Shrija were planning to get married soon, probably by coming January. They confessed about each other’s and to certain extent their ‘live in’ relationships also. After knowing that, both of their family got in touch with each other and were moving positively to give it a wonderful shelter but something was going wrong. Shrija sensed the same a few months ago and asked Rishi about it, a very simple yet confusing thing. Now a day Rishi gets tired after coming back from office and without helping his partner for cooking, most of the time suggests bringing food from outside. They don’t go out for long drive quite often like before. Some changes have occurred in between their relationship and that’s why the aroma was missing. Sometime they forget to kiss each other at the time of leaving for office. While sleeping at night, they don’t share those warm moments like their initial days. Rishi also sensed the same. Now a day, Shrija doesn’t wake him up in the morning with a hot cup of tea, he doesn’t feel necessary to start the day with a long kiss, and even at night also it doesn’t take much time to fall asleep. Who has changed, Shrija or Rishi?
Rishi discussed all these things with one of his friend, who suggested him to pay a visit to a psychiatrist. He did so but that also failed to bring the warmth, the essence, the sweet aroma. Days will be never like before. They are well settled with smile rather than laughing loudly and that also for no definite reason at all.
They cried for almost whole night. Shrija packed her baggage, Rishi tried to do the same like most of the time and failed to complete, requested Shrija to help him. With tears in eyes, Shrija laughed at his baggage and completed it with so much of ease. They hugged each other and asked themselves silently, were this only way to do? Wasn’t there any other way out? Shrija is going her home tomorrow, resigned from her present job and Rishi will continue with his present one. He has rented a new place to stay near Bandra station, a smaller one. From tomorrow onwards they will stop walking in same road. How is it possible to do so all of a sudden? Tears rolled down from Rishi’s eyes. He rushed to washroom to hide that, came back with a pinned smile thinking this is well hided from Shrija. She took a deep breath and kept on packing her luggage.
Rishi came with two cups of coffee. They sat in chair facing each other and none were breaking the silence but concentrating on the coffee. Cups were finished; still nobody stood up to put the empty cups in basin.
Rishi had to speak, “Shri, we should try for the last time, just one more time to make it final and rigid. Don’t you think that we are not happy with each other, doesn’t mean that we will be happy with somebody else? You know me and I know you. Nobody knows you more than me and the same are true in mine case also.”
Shrija gave a smart smile, “what last time? Do you think any essence of our relationship still remains and right now it doesn’t make any sense, you know. Our family, friends, relatives, everybody has been informed that we are parting and now you are asking for some more time?”
“hummm, some more time to reach to a conclusion”, Rishi seemed rigid, “a final conclusion can be taken without involving anybody in the world and that can be taken anytime, if only, yes if only we are agreed to do so”. His voice lost rigidity as it covered with emptiness.
He suddenly stood up, threw his own luggage and as well as Shrija’s too. He took out everything from both the bags. Shrija was surprisingly looking at his act. She tried to say something but went in vain. Rishi came straight to her, “I am wrong, slap me, why don’t you slap me hard? I am also a human being. We have decided to leave each other, that doesn’t mean that we are not in love till now, I love you Shri, and I love you a lot”. He broke with tears in his eyes.
At mid of this night, probably it would have disturbed the society. Shrija, conscious of all the situations, stood up, went straight to Rishi, hold his hand tightly, and wiped the tears from his eyes. Rishi was not showing any sign to stop crying. She wrapped her hand around him and let warm water roll through his hairy chest. Shrija is also crying.