by Swarnasankha Acharjee
The story might not have started if our family hadn’t decided to move to the capital.
Initially, we lived in a village, some 12 Km away from the capital. I got admitted to a convent missionary school in the capital. That is where I met Shweta. Of course, I do not remember our first meeting, but I remember everything growing up together. With time she went to become one of my best friends.
In class 5, our family shifted to the capital. And this added fuel to our growing bond. Our houses were located in the same locality. We started spending time together. As we entered high school, both of us started going to school on a cycle. I was becoming popular as a cricketer in the junior category. So, I had special permission from the principal to leave school early for practice. Shweta used to return from school and then attend tuition. From tuitions, she would come to the ground and wait for my practice to get over. Apart from cricket, I started writing poems and stories. Even she started writing. I must admit she should have gone forward with the writing. After practice, most of the days we would spend time together sharing our poems with each other. Our bond with growing age raised a lot of eyebrows. Most people started spreading rumors about the two of us being in love. High school fallacies are quite interesting. There was nothing as such. At least from my side. We kept the rumors aside and moved forward. We were the alter ego of each other.
By the time we reached high school, I started getting popularity for cricket and Shweta became a sensation in the school. She was the most beautiful girl in the school. Because I was the closest to her, most boys who wanted to talk to her chose a way via me. She kept on declining all the proposals until she met Dhananjay. Dhananjay was a class senior to us.
Shweta was a very good dancer. Except for a few days she always came out better than others after the competition. It was one such bad day when she didn’t manage to win the competition. After the results were announced, she rushed out of the stage and went into the green room. That was normal for me. I have seen her go through phases as such. So like other bad days, I followed her to the greenroom. But contrary to other days, there was already a shoulder present there for her to cry on. I stood there at the door of the green room for a while and then left silently.
The following days were more or less the reflection of that day in the town hall greenroom. After her tuitions, she didn’t come to the ground. Her visit to my places became a rarity with time. She showed up only if she needed notes or was in trouble. Many times the two would get into trouble and I had to advocate a way out for them. I gave more time to my game and it paid off. I represented the district at the age of 15. I became quite a popular figure in the school. As the news of Shweta’s relationship with Dhananjay spread out, few girls started showing interest in me. Most of the earlier thought I was in a relationship with Shweta. But, by then I made up my mind only to focus on the game and play for the country one day.
Things were going well for both of us individually. She was happy in her relationship, and I was having a great domestic season. Sometimes I miss our old friendship days. As long as she was happy, it was all good for me. But, good things don’t last for long enough. Differences started to creep in between the two. They began to have fights. Every second day I would have to intervene to get them together again. This continued for quite some time until the two of them decided to part ways, not on good terms of course.
After our class X boards, our dormant friendship started growing again. We started spending time together again. Things started falling in place. I got a call from the state team. I was on cloud nine. But, as I said before, good things aren’t meant to stay in life.
I was jogging in the morning as per my schedule when a speeding car ran over my left foot. Not once, but thrice did the car retrace its path to run over my leg. I somehow managed to remember the number of the car, but on the investigation, it was found that the number plate was fake. The case is now confined only to the files and I am confined to the wheelchair for life. And cricket was as distant as my old dust-covered kitbag kept at the dark, farthest corner of the room.
When I was going through the treatment, Shweta took care of me as a wife would take care of her husband. She kept mom at arm’s length from the hassle of looking after me. She spent sleepless nights beside my bed. She took care of my medicines, food, and literally everything.
I took admission in class XI and keeping in mind my good impression, I was given the special privilege to attend classes from home. After class Shweta would come straight to my house to attend to me. She would help me with my physiotherapeutic treatment as well as with my studies. Physically depended on crutches, but emotionally I depended on her. Physiotherapy miraculously made me move from wheelchair to crutches.
After the annual exams, she came up with a surprise. She booked a vacation for us along with our families. I was really happy and excited. I have been confined to the four walls for a long time. The change of air was much needed. The doctors recommended that too. And she was ready to do anything for my health. And thus we reached Jampui hills. Shweta made the difficult road easy for me. While most people will say I reached there by car, but in truth, I reached there supporting her shoulder.
The next day, early in the morning she woke me up and helped me get onto the rooftop of the Eden Lodge. The view of sunrise from the rooftop is mesmerizingly beautiful. A view no one can get tired of. Our parents were still asleep. There was no one other than the two of us. Her presence made the view more scenic. We kept looking at the rising sun and the clouds were below us. Little did I know that our relationship would rise with the rising sun that morning.
The sun had just peeped out and rays fell on her face. She inched closer to me. Both of us are still looking at the rising.
“You know Ron, I am thankful to God that I met Dhananjay and we were in a relationship. Those days made me realize no one can understand me more than you. Maybe you don’t feel the same way I do. I realized how much I need you in my life. Not for the things you did for me. I am happier when around you. I… I love you, Ron! It took me a relationship to realize I always loved you”, she said, still looking at the rising sun. I turned to face her. Her eyes were watery. I wrapped my right arm around her shoulder and pulled her close.
“You know Shweta, now I can’t fulfill any of your…” she stopped me before I could finish.
“You are my need Ron!” she said and looked into my eyes.
“I love you too!”
Like most people, I dreamt of a smooth journey from thereon. But, life had other ideas. Life turned my expectations to topsy-turvy. We had completed our higher secondary and got into college together. Until the end of the first semester, everything was going great.
No one knew what happened to her, what she was thinking, she applied for graduate school abroad and left all of a sudden for the United States. She just left behind a text message for me:
I Need some space! I’ll be back after graduation. I just want to have some time for myself. Love you!
That’s it. It came as a shock to me and her parents as well. Even they had no idea of this. I refrained from public display of penitence. I completed my graduation and took up a job and got posted in Delhi.
I rented a two-bedroom flat there along with a colleague. Office and home were the only places anyone could find me, I still used the crutches. Those supported me physically. But I missed the emotional crutch. While to the outer world I had moved on from Shweta, deep down I still remembered every moment spent with her. I tried to contact her for nearly six months. There was no reply from the other side. I texted her, called her, and even mailed her. And eventually, after six months, I gave up. I moved on leaving behind everything. But life had other ideas.
I was returning from the office late. It was raining cats and dogs. The auto I took stopped midway. I along with the auto driver made our way under a roadside shade. Just then a girl came running under the shade to protect herself from the rain. Her wet hair obstructed the view of her face. She flaunted her hair aside and I looked on only to find out the girl to be Shweta! I scratched my neck and looked away as if I didn’t notice her. But she obviously saw me. And our reactions were contrary to each other. She came running towards me and hugged me. Even though I didn’t want to, I took her in my arms.
“I missed you so much”, she uttered while being in my arms.
“Yeah, I know. That’s why you texted me, called me every day”, I uttered.
About the Author:
Swarnasankha Acharjee is a writer from Agartala, Tripura in India.