Fiction

Breakthrough: A Series Of Escapades

by Tiyasha Khanra

Prologue 

Asha Khanna shares a boat with Santimoy Mandal, her childhood friend. They took the boat from Belur Math and their destination is to Dakshineswar. They are enjoying a beautiful evening, together. Asha is enjoying the breeze of Ganga in her face. Santi keeps his hand on her shoulder. Asha leans her head on his shoulder and says, “You know Santi, who we are?”

“I know but it’s a pleasure to hear from you.”

“We are the reflection of how we were treated in our childhood.”

“Precisely..”

Asha picks her head up from his shoulder and by looking straight, she speaks, “A damaged childhood can affect your later life, very badly. Very, very, very badly.”, a drop of tears rolls down to her cheek. The boat reaches the ferry ghat of Dakshineswar and lies at its anchor. Asha gets off the boat and helps Santi to get off by holding his hand.

(1)

Asha and Santi take the escalator to climb up the Skywalk. “Do you know what’s the name of the Skywalk?”, Asha speaks while the escalator drives them to the Skywalk. “Yeah! It’s Dakshineswar Skywalk.”, Santi speaks in a casual way.

“No dumbo! It’s Dakshineswar Rani Rashmoni Skywalk. Look it’s written there.”, She points her finger to the nameplate.

“It’s same.”

“No, it’s not.”

“Uff! Okay, as you think. You are right and I am wrong. Happy?”

“No, you are not wrong. But I am more right. Something like this.”, Asha steps forward.

“Asu, can I ask you something?”, Santi asks while trying to catch up with her.

“Sure.”

“You and me.. I mean we..”, he takes a breath and continues, “We are friends since childhood, right?”

“What’s there to doubt? I mean everybody knows this. Let’s take a selfie.”

“No! I mean first, answer me.”

“Oh dear, what’s chasing you in your mind? Umm-hmm?”

“Let it be straight. Didn’t you fall in love with me? Ever? Tell me the truth.”

“The truth won’t favor you though.”

“You don’t have to think about it. Just speak your own.”

Asha gives a smile and pats on his shoulder and then answers, “The truth is that I love you. Do you know why? Because it’s only you, who allows me to speak my own. Nobody ever tried this. I love you because you are exceptional. You always stayed with me in my crises. I love you because you never leave me even after knowing that..”

“Then why can’t we make it a steady relationship?”

“If we don’t become a typical boyfriend and girlfriend, will you leave me?”

“I have proposed you sixty-nine times before and every time got that ‘no’, did I leave you?”

“I love you for that reason too.”, Asha gives another smile.

“Fuck it. You allowed that fuck boys to love you, and you rejected my love for all the time, which is genuine.”

“It’s not rejection. It’s a dismiss. I dismissed you, I didn’t want to mold our love in the shape of a relationship. You know something, the lion shares people are in a relationship but not in love. I need to embrace the love that has no condition, no contract, and no commitment.”

“You rejected me, and that’s okay. But don’t cover it up with words. I know you have a good vocabulary. But don’t play with it in front of a jilted lover.”

“Don’t be such sentimental. All sentiments are not necessarily meant to be shared.”

“You know what, you are a hopeless romantic. And unfortunately, so I am or turned to. Now seat here for a while.” They share a bench.

“Do you believe in vegetable love?”, Asha opens up.

“What’s that?”, Santi frowns.

“I mean platonic love. All my feelings for you are platonic.”

“I understand. No need to illustrate.”

“Damn it. You misunderstand.”

“Whatever! It’s 6.00 P.M. Let’s go.” They prepare to leave.

(2)

Asha and Santi walk a while and then takes an auto from Alam Bazar More to Dunlop. They get off from the auto, pays the fare, and carefully cross the heavy-traffic road. They stop near ISI(Indian Statistical Institute), buy a water bottle from a little shop, and then enter into a lane. “You will see the place today, where I exhale my life.”, Asha blurts out. “Just because you insisted, else I would have never come to this profound horror place.”, She gets replied.

“You will like it.” They stop near a park. Besides the park, stands the multi-storied flats. Santi gives a look to them. “Can you guess how many stories are there?”, Asha speaks out. “Beyond any count.”, Santi answers reluctantly. “It’s twenty-six.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“I have counted.”

“When?”

“I used to seat here with my friends and counted them many times.”, Asha gives an I-know-everything-over-here look to Santi. “Let’s go inside the park.”, She offers. “No entry after 6.00 p.m. It’s clearly written over the board. Can’t you see this?”, Santi returns a what’s-wrong-with-you glance. “I know man. But it’s fun to do the forbidden. Come up with me.”, She drags him into the park. “Let’s seat here.” They sit in the cemented place around a tree facing into the lake. “Let me introduce you to this place. It’s the Bonhoogly Lake, and this park is named after the lake: ‘Bonhooghly Lake View Park.”, Asha speaks while she brings out something from her bag. “What’s that?”, Santi inquires and then switches on the flash of his phone to see what’s there in her hand. “It’s Ram in the bottle of a cold drink.”, Asha confesses. “Have you gone crazy? What if someone catches us to drink over here?”

“Don’t be a spoilsport, man. Let me be a little drunk tonight, please.”, She gulps the content of the bottle. Santi checks whether anyone else is close by to them or not and finds nobody around. Asha speaks further, “Can you see the opposite side of the lake as well?”

“It’s dark. But I can see the silhouette.”

“It’s my college. K.B.C. college.”, She focuses on her drinking. “How is your college life?”, Santi asks her.

“It’s good, unlike my school life. All is good here. Except for the partiality of the teacher in the evaluation of internal assessment, everything else is fine here.”, Asha gives an assuring look. Santi returns a smile. An awkward silence followed then. Asha finishes her drink and throws the bottle to the dustbin which is remained unloaded for several days and thereby stuff is overloading from its mouth. Asha’s bottle hits the stuff and bounces to the lake. Asha cuts her tongue with her teeth. Santi makes her look towards the moon, which is shedding its pearlescent hue to the lake. “Even the moon has its story to tell.”, Asha babbles. “Can I ask you something Asu?”

“Anything.”

“Did Jeet love you more than I do?”

“Let me rephrase your question, did Jeet even love me forever? I don’t even know. I don’t even felt that. He is so fucking cowardly. My mother went to his house. Met him and his mother. Our mothers thought we are not mature enough to be in love. But neither of us felt that personally. He was told to block me from all social sites. So he did. I was left alone with my questions unanswered. He didn’t even care. After seventeen days of my suspension from school when I was unlocked from my room, it was the day I tried hard to find my phone, that was kept hidden by Ma.”, Asha speaks without taking any break and finally she leaves a sigh.

“Did you find your phone and contacted Jeet then and there?”

“I was finding my phone desperately without giving a hint to my parents that I am in search of my device. And yes, I did find it.”

“And you called Jeet and found yourself being blocked. Right?”

“Wrong assumption. The first thing I did was tapped the reset button and kept the phone in its place because I saw my mother coming into the room and I could have been caught red-handedly and I couldn’t afford to go through another seventeen days lock-up session.”

“By resetting your phone, you lost all data, all contacts. You lost the chance to connect Jeet anymore.”

“Can you guess why I reset my phone?”

“No. Why?”

“It’s not because of Jeet Ghosh. It’s because of Prakash Pandey. My phone was storage full with Pandey’s sex chat. What if Baba or Ma unlocks the phone with a phone expert. Nobody could have saved me then. They would have informed the school authority and I was rusticated for sure. Uff! Even the thoughts give me goosebumps.”

“Such a bitch you are!”, Santi concludes.

“Dhur Bokachoda!”

(3)

As they were chitchatting, the watchman comes from somewhere. As if he was sleeping until then and suddenly his sleep has been snatched away by an illegal entrance of a couple of friends. He flashes his torch in their face. Asha hides her face behind her hand. Santi stands up. “Kon hai ap log? Or kya chal raha hai yeha? Notice nehi dekha kya?”

“We are friends. Just leaving.”, Santi tries to bribe one hundred rupees to the watchman but Asha interrupts. She takes the note from his possession and turns towards the watchman, “R a kaka rege jachho keno? Cheno na naki tumi amake?”(Why are you getting angry? Can’t you recognize me?), She holds Santi’s hand and both of them rush from there within a minute. They come to B.T. Road on foot. “In the day I use to drink Sting with my friends and pretend to be drunk. At night I am really drunk and pretend to be shown as not drunk. You are right. Such a bitch I am.”, Asha babbles further.

“Dekhechhis bokachoda ta k?”

Asha ignores and asks him the time. “It’s 7.20 p.m.”, She gets answered.

“Let’s run.”

“Why? And where?”

“To the Baranagar station. There’s a Sealdah local at 7.30 p.m. We need to catch that.”, She holds his hand once more and forces him to run with her. “But we don’t have tickets.”, Santi manages to say while huffing and puffing in the stairs of the railway station.

“We don’t have time to buy tickets. There’s the train coming. Get fast to the platform or else we’ll miss the train.”

(4)

Asha and Santi get off the train and they are now at the exit of Sealdah Station. “Where are we supposed to go?”, Santi inquires.

“To the Sealdah Bigbazar.”

“Why? Who’s waiting there for you?”

“Memory.”

“Memory of whom?”

“Us. Jeet and we met here for the last time and then we parted forever.”

“How long is that forever?”

“Sometimes a fraction of second and other time an entire life.”

“So you met Jeet after your suspension?”, Santi asks looking at her. Without meeting his eyes Asha replies, “We met here after our school was over. I was in B.A. first year then.”

“How you patched up with Jeet after your suspension? You said you reset your phone and his number got deleted therefore..”

Before he can finish Asha starts, “After passing all the pains and hurdles and injuries and shames, I finally rejoined school on 26th September 2016. I missed the first teachers’ day in my new school because it fell on my suspension period. My classmates participated and made it a successful one and I only saw them participating in pictures that were clicked and posted, later when I got my phone back in my possession. I didn’t saw Jeet in school for the next fifteen days after my rejoining. I thought he had left the school but later I come to know that he was warned not to show his face to me. The first day after my suspension, when I went to school, there was a special energy in me. I don’t know its source. But this time I was more confidant than before. Everybody around me was giving me a contemptuous look as if they have seen an alien. They were giving me a feeling of guilt and an impression of their innocence. Ruksana, the girl who made the video viral came to me with the I-didn’t-do-anything make-face. She said she didn’t do me harm, rather save me from a coward boy. Partially it was true; I didn’t care though. Arindam sir welcomed me once more..”

“So you got back to that school which had chased you to the worst part of your life..”, Santi interrupts. Asha cuts him short, “Yes, but the best thing is that the dark side of everybody around me got revealed. And I came back with an extra carefulness.”

“So when and how you got up with Jeet after that escapade?”

“My love for him died the moment he forced me to apology to Arindam sir after knowing very well that I was absolutely innocent.”

“How dares he!”, Santi exclaims.

“No my dear, he doesn’t dare, he only fears. And I didn’t get up with him anymore. After not finding him in school, I started finding him on Facebook but I didn’t find him there. I made a fake account on Facebook and searched him, his account was activated. I came to know that I was intentionally blocked in my real account. I deleted my Facebook accounts and changed my SIM card. I got detached from the social networks. After one and a half months, I rejoined my English tuition batch and I found him there, still coming for tuition. Our teacher advised us to change our batch. I didn’t heed to him. I told him that I won’t change the batch and asked him to ask Jeet to change the batch. Jeet too disagreed to change the batch. After two weeks our English teacher forgot about this batch-changing issue. After the holidays of Durgapuja, when the batch started one more time, Ayan, one of our batchmates gave me a chit and there was written: “Want to talk. Wait outside, once the class gets over.” Once the class gets over I waited outside for Ayan. He came to me and took me to the dark zone of Patra Para Lane. Once reached there, he told me that it’s not him but Jeet, who wants to talk to me. I told him that I don’t want to. But he insisted. I got frizzed in fear. But there was a certain vibrance in me that was giving me false hope for recovering in love with Jeet.” Asha and Santi reach the Bigbazar, takes the escalator, and come up to the flood zone. “Go, bring me some popcorn.”, Asha orders Santi. Santi obeys. He comes back with the popcorn and finds Asha standing aside, from where the escalator can be seen properly. A drop of tears glistens her eyeballs but before it comes to her cheek, Asha takes control of it. “Split it out. I know something is hurting you right now.”, Santi says reaching to her. Taking the popcorn in her hand, Asha blurts out, “I am afraid, but I am so weak, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I met Jeet one year before to this place and he kicked me in the escalator and made me fall on my keens. My ankle got twisted. Can you tell me, Santi, why everybody is so cruel around me? Why they don’t count me as a human being? Why can’t they serve me a little kindness?”

“First tell me, why are you so emotionally fool? Why did you expect people to do good to you? Why do you still believe that the story will bring you success? Your story is over Asu and successfully got flopped. It’s better for you to move on.”, Santi pats on her shoulder. An uncontrollable flow comes downs from her eyes this time. “People can change Santi, but feelings for them can’t until and unless you found a better reason to console yourself. Pandey was that reason for me.”

“Shut up bitch. Not interested to hear your illicit love story.”

“Let’s go somewhere else.”, Asha shifts her mood.

“We have just come. Let’s seat for a while and then we’ll go.”

“No we’ll go right now.”, Asha makes a stubborn face.

“Where?”

“College Square.” They come out of Bigbazar, take an auto, and reach College Square within ten minutes.

(5)

Asha roams randomly with Santi in the street of College Square. “Am I a psycho?”, Asha asks suddenly. Santi thinks before he blurts out. “You don’t have to cover up the truth. Just speak the truth.”, she adds.

“A little bit.”, she gets answered. “Everybody has a hidden alienation within. When we want things to happen in a certain way and it goes opposite, the alienation gets vibrated. I too wished to have a sound relationship with Jeet and the sexiest affair with Pandey. But the proverb proves to be the truth.”

“Which one?”, Santi eagers to know.

“Man proposes and God disposes of.” Asha looks at the sky and speaks further, “Jeet was a star in the dark sky of my life, but there was a lot like him and Pandey was the moon in my universe, none like him. I loved both of them anyway.”

“Such a pervert-minded you are! Can anyone love two people at a time?”

“People can love more than one person at a time but people can’t love more than one person at once.”

“Characterless!”

“It depends on what you understand by character. You can’t stop yourself from falling in love with someone even if you are betrothed or married to someone else.”, Asha justifies.

“But you can stop yourself from giving your heart to someone when you are committed to someone else.”, Santi debates.

“Truth as fuck. But what if I don’t want to miss anything in life.”

“In choosing love you have to choose one, otherwise you’ll have none.”

“That’s why people lie. People lie to have more than one.”

“Whom do you lied, Jeet or Pandey?”

“Both.”, Asha leaves a heavy sigh and then speaks, “I patched up with Jeet that night when he dared to court me in Patra Para Lane. I never underestimate anyone’s dare. I gave him my new number and on the same night, I opened new social accounts. Before I slept I messaged Jeet that I will be there for him till my last breath. Coincidentally after my message gets delivered and before Jeet gives a reply, another message from Pandey fucks my loyalty for Jeet. Pandey writes to me so that I don’t leave him at any given time of my life. I shut my eyes for a minute and then copied the message that I wrote for Jeet a minute ago and paste it and send it to Pandey. Without wasting a fraction for a second, Pandey sends me the kissing emoji and before I send anything to him, Jeet replies that he loves me. I didn’t sleep that night too. Sleep didn’t come to me.”, Asha stops suddenly in the middle of the street and gives a tired look to Santi. “Let’s go back home. It’s enough for today. I am very sleepy tonight.”

“When’s the train?”, Santi takes out his mobile from his pocket to check the timetable of the train. “9.34 Dankuni local.” They enter into the Sealdah platform, buys the ticket, and catch the train. Asha leans her head on Santi’s shoulder and gets slept. At 10.17 p.m. the train arrives on Dankuni Junction. Santi slaps on Asha’s back and makes her awake. They get off the train and comes to Dankuni Bazar and Santi gets Asha into an auto and leaves her. “Bye, Meet me tomorrow morning on the Dankuni platform.”, Asha bids him goodnight. Santi waves at her as the auto leaves for Krishnapur.

Epilogue

Asha and Santi get off at Bally Ghat station. It’s 6 o’clock in the morning. They take the Bally Bridge on the holy river of Ganga. They stop somewhere in the middle of the bridge. “The bridge is literally vibrating.”, Santi starts. “It does, every time the trains pass on.”, Asha takes the lead. “So, let me get you straight without beating around the bush.”, Asha gives an I-have-a-deal-for-you gesture and continues, “How many days will you take to start writing my novel?”

“What the fuck! You want me to write for you?”

“Why else should I tell you every nitty-gritty of my life to you? I have shared everything with you. Now give it a shape.”

“I have never written a poem in my entire fucking life. And you expect me to write a novel? Hahaha, You must be joking.”, Santi gives a sarcastic smile.

“You never wrote because you had not any story to tell. But I have.”

“Then write it yourself.”

“If I had to write it on my own, I would have never given you the chance to reject me on my face.”

“Okay! Let’s play a game. If you win, I’ll try to write to you. If you lose…”

“What nonsense!”, Asha reacts. Santi takes out a coin from his pocket. “Head or tail?”, He asks.

“Your fucking ass to give a kick.”

“Bol na.”

“Head.”, She agrees to the toss. Santi turns and twists the coin in the air and then covers it in his palm. Asha opens his fist and finds him to be won. She takes the coin from his possession and throws it in the Ganga.

“Every time I can’t afford losing.”, She speaks blankly.

“Haar Kar Jeetne Walo ko Baazigar Kehte Hai. It doesn’t matter you won or I, your novel must be written.”, Santi consoles.

“Fuck off!”, She shows her middle finger to him and walks off.

About the Author:

Tiyasha Khanra is a poet and an author, she lives in Kolkata, India. 

One Comment

  1. Sayan Mukherjee

    Great writing, enjoyed it a lot.

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