The sky roared again; Leena panicked and started walking faster. A bag full of gifts in one hand and a box of cake in the other made it difficult for her to balance her hurried steps. Her fear turned into reality when the last thing she wished for happened; she could feel the drizzle pouring down.
She looked up at the dark sky, mumbled something to it, probably asking it to wait for her to reach a shelter at least.
14th June, being her best friend’s birthday, was quite significant for her. Wearing a black skirt and a red tank top, she rushed towards Aashi’s place.
Aashi, who had just turned 27, was sitting in front of her room’s window, gazing at nothing. She wasn’t even aware of her birthday, or perhaps it didn’t matter anymore. She looked at the frame hanging on the opposite wall and started sobbing subconsciously. The handsome man in the picture stared back at her, making her cry even more. Shivin’s pictures had begun to torture her and yet she never tried getting rid of them.
Three months had passed, yet the time stood still. She was still vulnerable, lost, and lonely. She missed him and perhaps he did too, who knows.
-Three months ago-
‘Happy first anniversary, darling!’ Shivin typed and sent it to his beautiful wife, who on the other side replied, ‘I am still not talking to you, Shiv!’
Apparently, Aashi was upset that on their first wedding anniversary, Shivin was in a conference meeting miles away from her. She desperately wanted to be with him on the genuinely special day, as she was waiting to give him the ‘good news’. She couldn’t stop blushing, and thinking of him made her crave for him even more.
Her cell phone beeped.
‘I am on my way back to Delhi.’
‘OMG! But how? And why?’
‘By the next flight, idiot. For you, for me, for us.’
Aashi couldn’t stop grinning.
‘More than ever! Come soon, love.’
‘At the immigration. Gtg. See you. Miss me.’
Aashi couldn’t wait for him to return. She cooked his favourite dishes, ordered a cake and some beer. It was all going to be great but then, instead for Shivin that day, a disaster had knocked her door.
Shivin’s plane had crashed; and came crashing down Aashi’s world. She had lost everything in a flash of a second.
Leena had finally reached, drenched in rain. Shivering and sneezing, she stood in front of Aashi’s house and kept ringing the doorbell successively. Angrily, she put all the material down and scanned her own purse for the duplicate key.
Aashi could hear the doorbells faintly. Unable to move, she let it ring infinitely. She smiled and let her heavy eyelashes rest for a while and then, forever. Impatiently and hastily, Leena ran into Aashi’s room directly, carrying the heavy cake in her arms.
Came to deliver the surprise, she herself got one; seeing the pool of blood that Aashi serenely lied in.
In her last ever letter, Aashi had accosted her best friend:
Leena, I knew you’d be here, since we have celebrated this day together from past twenty years but I couldn’t gather the courage to see you throwing pity at me.
After Shivin left, I lived in the hope of seeing his little one in my lap soon, but my doctor killed even that hope yesterday. It was all getting worse and I was unable to take this pain anymore. I love him eternally and am not able to brook this distance between us, and I am now going where he’s waiting for me. I was dead the day when I came to know that he was never returning. It was just my body functioning, but even that needs some rest now.
I didn’t tell you in months, but I love you. You have been with me in all the highs and lows but I, selfishly, am leaving you behind with a pain for lifetime.
Wipe yourself with the towel kept on the chair and your hot coffee with extra sugar awaits you at the study table. Make yourself comfortable.
Thanks for loving me more than I ever deserved.
Leena wailed, screamed, cried. She couldn’t stop her best friend, she left useless and disgusted. She lost a major part of herself that day. Unfortunately and unexpectedly, that was how Aashi’s birthday was celebrated that year.
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