Hey. You remind me as if I don't check my emails every day. I just found that amusing. I do actually use this email for communicating with people, you know. The only inbox that matters to me.
To answer your first question, I will probably be waiting for a long while.
What for? I wish I knew. Waiting is such a mundane task, and yet when put into context it becomes the most adrenaline-filled pause before the fall.
Your second question was to ask if I was still hurt.
Are you? Let me ask you.
Your answer is as good as mine. I don't know what your is, so ultimately you will be the only one to know the result. No, my happiness doesn't depend on you, and my memories no longer dwell on you either. But your guess is as good as mine. Does the hurt go away?
Your third question touches the border of both yes, and no. I can safely tell you that I used to love you.
But to be honest, I know what love feels like. But I don't know what tells it apart. If you asked me to pick it out in between the millions of words I could express, I would be thinking for the rest of my life and possibly beyond. So yes, perhaps I still love you.
But I know that love doesn't always last. At some point innocent little me thought that love was a forever, something that would be as permanent as human existence. Not that that's gonna last with climate change. And I know that things have changed so drastically within myself that I probably couldn't tell "love" from "contempt". At least, I think. I wouldn't know. So perhaps I don't love you.
I read this over and it sounds like I either love you, or hate you. No. This feeling shit is a conundrum, but this much I know- Nobody wins, either way. So it's just. A hair's breadth from figuring itself out. I just need a little more time.
And addressing your fourth question, why do you assume that I write you because of this? My life has nothing to do with yours, and vice versa. I have nothing against you, but nothing that aids you. You hold virtually no power over me, and even if anything was my fault I would not take blame. No, I write for myself, as an outlet. I write because you don't read, and if you do I know you'll never find my real words. The words that anyone would have understood but yourself. I made sure of that. I don't want you to try anything, or take anything I say to heart. Half the time it's sleep deprivation anyway, but thank you for caring.
Your second email gets another sections. The reply on my musings of the night.
It's masochistic thoughts, not sadistic. Search it up?
I'll let you know this, though. I am no longer jealous, angry or sad. Thank you for reading my few rants, and providing me closure. I deserved it, and I recieved it just fine. So thank you.
I loved the writing, actually. The difference is that I've always loved to be alone, and you've never wanted to stew in your thoughts. I, will admit, am the person written in the first half of the passage. I need my personal space, yet enjoy friendships and socializing. So no, I don't understand how you hate the writing. But you don't have to explain, I got the gist.
My waiting is not forever, I know. I'm not waiting for you, I'm waiting for life to slowly move on for the both of us. I know, I sound like an asshole. But that's the truth. I would have said, if you asked me this a week ago, that I'm waiting for you to catch up. But that's simply no longer the case. As a decent human being, I'll be here for you as long as you ask. I may be straightforward and angry sometimes, but that dosn't mean I'm cruel. But the point being: As Long as you Ask.
Forgive me for being too open about this. But you're missing yourself. And control. Yes, I thought you had strong control over your emotions and feelings, and I believe you think so too. News flash: you don't. Now that I can see you from a outer perspective. You switch emotions within the blink of an eye, blame others for little things (I don't think you notice? But it's still hurtful to the others here). You self-decapricate too much and take credit too little. Live the small things, and hold your own. Nobody can be there for someone who's absent.
I guess now that I'm writing I've had an epiphany.
I miss you in the late nights when you used to fill the gaps with words. But now I've let you go.
I don't think that's love. I know you can see it's not, either.
I realize now, that this will probably be one of the last emails I will send you. At least on this account. Because what's the point? If you want to contact me, email me properly, I guess. I will always answer, and I will be waiting, but only if you ask.
And as a last word?
cave of forgotten gods
that sounded like good advice
Put your room in order first
and then your thoughts
He started looking around the room
for things that were
to be thrown and things that were
There were a few
There was a broken snowboard
on his bed
It had the image of a naked girl
he slept with it at night
and would often find himself placing
his lips over hers
and licking at her slim, long neck
She had to go
It was time to get rid of her
and break out of this
He grabbed it
Looked at the girl for a good minute
and decided to place the snowboard
under his bed
by the side of the bed and looked
Alas, she had no room in there
There was the forgotten cave of
he no longer thought about
And it was full
There were body pillows with
A teddy bear with a hole carved between
A drinking glass stuffed with
dishwashing sponges wrapped in plastic bags
Magazines with crumpled pages
Pictures printed on A4 paper
Sealed jars that contained small figurines
covered by a thick, brown substance
like melted wax
Those were the gods of nights
They had their share of his worshiping
and had been abandoned
to rot away
There was simply no more room
for the present god
to be disposed of
“Funny,” he said
looking at her from above. “It's like
all the ones who came before you
had passed down their blessings
onto you. I… I am sorry I tried to get
rid of you, love. I’m such a fool! Don’t
strike me down, please. I’ll… I can only
try to make up for it.”
He placed the snowboard back on
the bed and
ripped two pieces from a paper towel
and placed them over the middle
of the snowboard
where the painted girl’s nakedness was exposed
He pulled his pants down
and mounted her
Rubbed his penis against the
and showered the girl’s face with
while apologizing and shedding tears
for wronging her so much
By the time he came he
and cleaned the stains that made it past
the papers with his mouth
Thank you for writing in my prompt about suicide. It hasn’t ended yet, but I’ve read all of you incredibly talented people’s writings so far, and I loved every single one.
Thank you for sharing your experiences. There is strength in words, and I hope you guys are okay.
My messages are always open to those who want a friend.
(p.s. There will not be a winner.)
a king in his castle
at 08:22 he awakens and pushes
away the tarp he uses as blanket
he’s already dressed up
and wears shoes
looks around at the blackening
dampness of the walls
stretches a bit
takes off his coat and
and the shirt
and the tank-top
grabs a tissue
wets it with rubbing alcohol
and uses it to wash his
armpits. He knows it’s good for killing
the bad smelling bacteria
He knows much about how the world works
for he’d been to school and even
one year of collage in his youth
When his armpits dry
he dresses up
and gets out and checks under the
big flower pots that stand before the
entry to the building
He is wise to keep his savings there
Otherwise the others would’ve
smelled it on him and would’ve
robbed him a long time ago
He counts the money
and feels satisfied with the sum
At 09:30 he eats a warm meal at the
local soup kitchen
and turns down
four bums who ask to borrow money
At 10:10 he walks up to the
big casino and
Now his imagination kicks in
Behind the entry
he is greeted with luxury, he walks
on the red carpet
and sees the bright lights
and the game attendants who greet him
like a king
He is the king in his vision
and he had returned to his castle
and walks around leisurely
A man needs to have but a clear
vision of a bright future
to live a happy present
He finds a seat
in front of a slot machine
puts the money into
the bill acceptor
and starts playing
He is one of the happiest
customers the casino
a dead body in the room
there was a dead body in the room
Had to be
Else where did the smell
Every time he’d turn around to catch
a ghost or a zombie
from the corner of his eyes the smell
would slap him
A smell of death
He decided he’d look around for the
He didn’t have the energy now
or the disposition
He only wanted to sleep
He just woke up and needed a good
nap to recover
Perhaps there were times when it
didn’t make sense
but now, today, nothing made more
sense that this
All you need is a healthy
dose of chronic depression and it makes
Just like not cleaning the room
and not taking a shower
in a time longer than memory can be
bothered to remember
So he paced back to the bed
and climbed in
and dragged the blanket, heavy with
caked dirt, on his body
and closed his eyes
He fell asleep in spite of
the smell of death
coming closer still
The dreams were always a little bit better
in the nap taken after
waking up from
the night’s sleep
One time he even dreamed he
was a published author. Not a great or
even a good one, but published
Father used his fists
Though never on the kids
On the walls
and the furniture
and the doors
and the mailbox
and the fence
and the neighbors
and random people on the street
and strangers in the bar
and a few times the poor dog
and one time on mother
He was the childhood’s
To defeat him one had
to become a hero
and becoming a hero
after all this time
the villain of childhood
He died at the hands of
some other character,
a neutral one
A cop who told him to
drop to the ground
and father didn’t
so he got shot
That was it
The end of his saga
There was no final showdown
between hero and villain
because those things
only happen in
and childhood had ended a
long time ago
Love me Not?
Puddles of tear drops gather at my feet
As they hit the ground- I’m reminded of my defeat.
I have to tried to be someone and show you that I’m great
But you never notice, you only show me hate.
All I want is love from you but it’s nowhere to be found
Even as my soul is crushed it doesn't make a sound.
I try so hard to flash a smile and never show my pain,
but now my smile starts to dim like fireflys in the rain.
I beg, I beg,and pray you’ll show me love,
Asking just for one sign from the Lord above.
You take a piece of me each day- taking me apart,
it’s just a matter of time until you break my heart.
The Love That Was Never Meant To Be
[CHAPTER 1]— FIRST VISUAL
Love is a strange phenomenon, it strikes at times you never expect it to and leaves a hollow hole in your heart. This emptiness can only be filled by the person you admire and want to be close with, but in my case the person I admired was a star and I am a nobody………..YET.
Let me tell you something about me and my life. My name is Shyan and I live in India. I am a 16 year old male with a chubby body, brownish color skin with a height of 5’4, yeah I am a childish looking boy. I hoped every day that my adolescence would kick in, but imagination never comes to fruition. Anyways I come from a middle class family which consists of me, my older brother who is completing his under graduation, my mother and my father. I am the youngest one in my family and the glue which holds it all together (I am just kidding). I have a docile nature and am an introvert type of a guy, who is currently studying in 11th standard. School is fun for the most part except the exams.
My story starts the like a normal day, which would then unleash a series of event that I never imagined would ever happen.
“Hey pass the biryani here.” Anubhav whispered as he drooled over his own brought biryani. Anubhav is what you call the tiffin boy of the class because his mother cooked the most delicious food over every other student’s mother in our class. He is the same age as me, but more athletic and taller than me. He has short black hairs with black eyes and whitesish color skin. He is average in studies and is not at all motivated in life whatsoever. He is very short-tempered sometimes and would even argue with the teacher if in a bad mood.
“Today is a good day, may god bless us with food like this every day” Karthik said as he took a spoonful of rice in his mouth. Karthik is that boy in the class who does not bring his own tiffin, but has his fair share of food from others. He is 17 years old and let me tell you his adolescence hit him at a very early age. He is already 6 feet tall and has a well built body with a well grown beard. He has long black hair and brown eye to complement his body. All the physical capabilities did not help him in studies as he is below average in studies, but astonishingly is very bright in physics. He is mostly an extrovert type of guy who has an opinion about every topic in the world.
“Pass the raita quickly” Aaryan instructed as he finally got his hand on the tiffin. Aaryan is the god gifted child of the class who would not study for the whole year , yet still miraculously pass every exam with flying colors. He has black hairs and black eyes with a lean body built. He is only a inch above my height, yet proudly mentions it to anyone who compare us. He is a cool minded type of a guy and my go to man for any problems plus he is good at chess.
“Eat quickly or we will get caught” I said while munching some rice.
“Relax, ma’am does not even a clue” Aaryan spoke overconfidently.
“Shyan, Karthik, Aaryan and Anubhav stand up and get out of my class at once” math’s ma’am surprised us by screaming at us out of nowhere. We quickly initiated the emergency protocol of hiding the tiffin box and acted like the most innocent beings on this planet.
“Why ma’am? What did we do?” Anubhav started acting like he has been framed.
“Look we all know that you are eating in the back. The whole class smells of biryani, so save our time and please go out of the class.” Math’s ma’am gave us the ultimatum.
We were disappointed with the decision, but not at all surprised. We quietly left the class and stood outside the class like some tourists sightseeing a famous monument. Yeah, punishment has become just secondary to us.
“It’s the third time we have been kicked out of her class this week” Karthik offered his insights.
“Well at least we are consistent” I said jokingly.
“Hey have you seen the season 4 of the Breaking bad, it’s so good” Karthik started a different topic to pass the time
The fever of Netflix and Amazon prime video had started to creep into India and many people started to binge watch the latest series.
“Yeah man, but Jessie is not in a good position right now.” Anubhav joined in with Karthik.
All four of us forgot that we were sent out of the class to atone for our behavior in class, yet here we stand, discussing about generic topics like it is our recess. Yeah, we have always been like this.
“Hey Shyan! I totally forgot that I had kept the ‘Dark ’ series on download in the computer lab, you do have a pen drive with you right?” Aaryan asked me. We usually used the school internet to download our stuff and then smuggle the series or game to our homes using a pendrive.
“Yes” I replied
“Great, I would take the pen drive home with me, I have been waiting to watch this series” Aaryan made his plans for the evening clear.
“Not today my friend, I have some work with pen drive at home. You could take it from me tomorrow” I stated my authority over the pen drive.
“aww come on what could be so important?” Aaryan asked me.
“Don’t you remember? I am going to my friend’s house to get GTA 5 for you” I replied.
Yes GTA 5 is not just a game at this time, it is more of a currency among gamers in India. If you have GTA 5 at the moment, then you are the popular kid among your group.
“Can’t argue there, that is some important stuff you got to attend to” Aaryan said cheerfully.
“What do we have here, the four musketeers of my class standing outside the class again” A familiar voice interrupted our discussion, I tilted my head a little to look who it was. It was our class teacher aka the English teacher of our class.
His name is Reyansh Gupta, one of the friendliest teachers in the school. He is a guy in his mid-thirties, with visible signs of ageing on his face due to wrinkles. He is a medium built man, with a height of 5’6 feet and receded hairline on his head. He is scheduled to take the next period of our class.
“There are only three musketeers in the novel sir, we are more like the fantastic 4” Anubhav said.
“Can’t argue there, but the musketeers title suits you all better” Reyansh sir pointed out.
The bell rang and the maths period got over. We stood side by side and waited for math’s ma’am to scold us for the final time. We knew the protocol to be followed by heart by now.
Ma’am came out of the class and glared at us with frustration and then she turned around to complain about us to sir. She can be so predictable sometimes.
“Look at the utter indiscipline of these students, they dare eat lunch in my period” complained the maths teacher.
“Yes ma’am, I fully agree with you, as their class teacher I take full responsibility for their misconduct. Rest assured, action will be taken against them.” Reyansh sir said with a strict voice as he looked at us.
“Don’t repeat this stunt again in my class” maths teacher warned us.
“Come on at least apologize to ma’am” Reyansh sir pacified the situation
“Sorry ma’am” we sung in unison. After 10 seconds, ma’am left us and walked down the corridor. We waited for her to leave and then turned our attention towards sir with a smile.
“And the Oscar for the best actor goes to Reyansh sir” I faked giving an award to Reyansh ir through my hands.
“Guys at least try not to get caught”
“We try” Karthik exclaimed.
“Try harder, now get in the class” Said Reyansh sir with a smile on his face.
The rest of the periods were nothing special, but we waited for the last period which is, yes you guessed it right, it is the computer lab period. It is now time to reap our series.
The computer lab was period was only for 35 minutes long and we had to transfer about 12gb of file content.
With the mission impossible tune ringing in my head, I inserted the pen-drive in the system where Aaryan has downloaded the series and started the transfer.
Usually the lab assistant does not check what we were doing, but today the sun had risen from the west.
He went to every student to check what we were up to.
My friends were looking at me as to tell me to abort, but I was in my mission impossible grove.
I hid my task bar to hide the file transfer for the naked eye, opened turbo c and quickly wrote the program that would solve the question on the board.
As soon as the lab assistant came near my system. I enlarged my turbo c window and showed him the output of my program.
He was satisfied enough and started moving to check on other students, but suddenly his eyes caught the glimpse of the pen-drive inserted in the PC.
“Hey why have you inserted a pen-drive in the system?” He asked with a stern look.
Facepalm moment on the faces of my friends, their eyes screaming at me “You impudent fool”.
“I just wanted to store my programs, so that I could revise them at home” I replied with the most innocent of face and voice.
Talk about bullshit excuse, but the chubby face has its advantage. He moved on without any suspicion.
The bell rang, we got out of the lab and my friends were there smiling foolishly.
“You cheeky bastard, get the pen-drive tomorrow” Anubhav said as he boarded his bus.
I reached my home and threw my bag at my study table. The table does not serve any purpose as I like to study at my bed.
Anyways I took my laptop and transferred the contents of the pen drive into it. Then I went to get my GTA 5 from my neighbor later that day.
I returned from my endeavor of securing GTA 5 and transferred the game into my laptop. I started browsing through my folders to pass the time until the game installed in my pc. My eye suddenly caught attention the ‘Dark’ series, I wondered how this series is going to be. So I checked the IMDB for ratings. The IMDB ratings were 9.0 and the reviews were very positive. So I decided to give this series a watch. Fun fact, they have taken a bunch of untested young actors in the series.
The general story of the series revolves around a 13 year old girl who gets vision about the people around the town who are going to be killed. She tries to ignore the deaths at the stary, but the dead people haunt her in her sleep. So, she tries to stop these deaths, but later she discovers more children of the town are getting the same visions as her. They later learn the dark secrets the town hold deep in its past.
I prepared myself for watching this series with shutting the door and equipping myself with earplugs, because of the one thing have learned from American made series, it is that there can be a sex or a nude scene anywhere in the episode, so better be safe than sorry.
As soon as I hit the play button, I saw her alluring face for the first time and from there I started a chain reaction which would change my whole life completely.
[CHAPTER 2] — THE MAGIC
The name of the actress in main role in this series is Melanie Scott. At first, I did not like her character at all as she was too conservative to be a main character, but as the series progressed, boy was I proved wrong. Throughout the season her acting started to strike a chord with me as the story progressed and at the end of season 1, she overshadowed her fellow actors by a mile and I admire her acting in this series very highly.
Melanie Scott looked like a typical 13 year old girl would. She had short curly black hairs and with a skinny body. My guess for her height would be 5’2, but she is still in her teenage years, so I expect her to grow more. She looked very cute in the whole series I must say. My admiration and respect for her acting is very high. In fact I wanted to meet her and pat on her back for her performance.
I had completed the series in three days, while it took another two weeks for others to catch up with me. We always conducted our post series analysis sessions in the most boring classes of the day to pass the time in the class. This time it is the physics period, with sir solving questions on the board.
“So what do you think of ‘Dark World’? I personally loved it” Aaryan initiated our post-series analysis meeting.
“Man, it was good” Karthik replied.
“Yup, I got to agree that the story is very different from the ones we were used to” Anubhav joined in the conversation.
“But the acting of the main character done by the new actress was pretty lame and cringy” Anubhav added on. I do not know why, but that statement from Anubhav really just did not sit well with me for some reason.
“Come on, her acting was flawless. I think she portrayed her character with finesse and perfection” I retaliated to his statement.
“She was cringy and unappealing in this season, I did not like her at all. What was her name again?” Anubhav asked.
“Her name is Melanie Scott and I do not like your bad impression towards her” I said in a stern voice.
Now the situation is getting heated, because I did not know what has happened to the docile nature of mine today. I am just basically not acknowledging Anubhav’s opinion.
“Both of you just relax” Aaryan tried to calm the situation, but Anubhav being short-tempered and I being adamant on my opinion towards Melanie Scott just escalated the situation. Few pleasantries were now started getting exchanged between me and Anubhav. The students sitting in front of us were now starting to look at us.
“If you can’t take others opinions, then you should just jeep your mouth shut Shyan” Anubhav looked irritated.
“If you can’t appreciate someone’s hard work, then it is you who should shut up” I counter attacked him.
The volume of our voices kept on increasing and within a few minutes all of the attention of the class is on us, but their entertainment is cut short by our physics teacher.
“Shyan and Anubhav, what are you two squabbling about so loudly? Care to share it with the class?” Physics sir stopped writing on the board and turned his attention towards us.
“Sir, they are arguing about the answer of the question written on the board” Aaryan tried to salvage the situation.
“That’s great. So tell me, what are your answers?”
I and Anubhav just looked at each other for a moment, realizing that we did not even know what the question is, let alone the answer
“Sir, the answer to the question is 90” I guessed without even looking at the question.
“Mine is coming out to be 120” Anubhav followed my lead.
“Centimeter or Meter?”Sir Inquired.
“Centimeter” we both replied.
“The answer is in degrees, idiots. We are finding the answer for the angle to get the maximum horizontal distance.” Sir said in a sarcastic tone.
There was a face palm moment on the face of Karthik and Aaryan, while the whole class burst into laughter. As punishment we got extra questions for homework that we needed to submit tomorrow, but the tension between me and Anubhav has still not been broken completely. So Aaryan came up with a great of idea. He set up a table tennis match between me and Anubhav during recess. It is a great move, as there are only two ways to cut the tension between boys. That is by fighting each other or competition between them and I do not think I could beat Anubhav in a fight. So we went to the basement to conduct our match as the racquets and table were situated there.
As soon as we reached the basement Aaryan started to tell us what prize we are playing for, other than keeping our ego intact.
“Here is the deal guys, whoever loses the game has to give a party of five hundred rupees at the canteen and has to apologize to the other.” Aaryan laid down the stakes.
We both agreed to the rules and were not in any mood to lose. Karthik tossed the coin and Anubhav won the toss. He chose to serve first. The game is for 21 points with 5 services on each side.
Let me tell you something about the table tennis style me and Anubhav use. Anubhav is an attacking player and likes to use his forehand to get topspin on the ball. While I use cuts and chops to generate greater spin on the ball. The match is not going to be easy for me because of greater agility and reach of Anubhav, but my defensive style has greater advantage than the attacking play he uses. Fun fact I have lost to Anubhav in table tennis more times than I have won.
The match started with an ordinary serve from Anubhav. On a normal day Anubav would have made quick work of me, but today I don’t know what happened to me. I got another level of adrenaline rushing through my veins today. I wanted to win that badly that I my might played the best game of table tennis I have ever played in my life. Anubhav just did not have any answers for my chops. The score after the match is 21-5. I generally do not put much effort or energy in anything I do, but today I felt very different. I just wondered if I played this seriously for me or Melanie.
“Damn, I have not seen Shyan play like this.” Karthik summarized the match.
“I agree, he completely dominated the table. Now it’s time for Anubhav to hold the end of the deal”. Aaryan said and turned towards Anubhav.
“I am sorry Shyan, the main character in the ‘Dark World was great’” Anubhav said in a low voice.
“Melanie Scott was great, say it Anubhav” I said, trying to massage my ego more.
“Melanie Scott is great, happy now?” Anubhav felt frustrated.
“Don’t forget about the five hundred rupees” Karthik reminded Anubhav.
“Yeah, you just staged this match for the treat didn’t you?” Anubhav said with a smile.
“Yes, we did. Did not just waste our recess to see you dimwits play” Aaryan exclaimed with a laugh.
“Well the recess is already over, will surely give the party tomorrow” Anubhav said after the school bell rung.
“The next period is bunk period then, we are not going to let you off that easily” Karthik pushed for the party.
Meanwhile, I just could not get over the fact that I had just played like that. It could not have been just because of my ego. What is this magic Melanie Scott has casted upon on me? I just pondered about this while going towards the canteen for Anubhav’s treat.
We reached our class after eating in the canteen, waiting for our chemistry teacher to be their teaching, but talk about luck. He was absent today and we were spared from our demise. For the rest of the day nothing special happened.
I reached my home in the evening and quickly lay down on my bed to get some sleep. I kept staring at the fan circling above me to get drowsy, but as soon as I closed my eyes to get some sleep, an image of Melanie Scott pooped up in front of my eyes. She looked right into eyes with a small smile on her face. I immediately opened my eyes and looked at the fan to shake of that image. I once again closed my eyes and again I saw Melanie in front of me. This time I went with the flow and did not open my eyes. Looks like I just cannot shake off that charm of her, that she has casted upon me.
There are certain people in your life who you want to be friends with and talk to them all day. In my imagination, she has become one of those friends. I woke at night and started to wonder. How can I meet her in real life? Several ideas started to pop into my head, I could just go to places she visits hoping that I would get a chance to meet her, but I lived in India and she lived in Orlando. The next idea is that I could message her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and hope for a reply. Looks like a great idea, so I took my phone out, started to search her profile and follow her profile on every social platform I could find. I typed a message to initiate the conversation.
“Hey, love your acting would like to be friends with you”
I messaged her and waited for her reply eagerly. I thought, what would her reply be? I did not sleep for the whole night, as I kept looking at her profile pictures and tweets she has written on her Instagram and twitter. Social network is a great way to get information about a person, but a person in social network posts the personality they want the world to see and not the personality they really have.
[CHAPTER 3] — THE HARSH REALITY
One week has passed after sending the message to Melanie, but no response ever came. I had still not abandoned hope, as I still believed that she will see my message and reply to it. Deep down I knew it was a futile attempt, but hey you won’t know until you try. I follow the policy of doing it first and thinking about it later.
Meanwhile, my older brother who is in college returned home from hostel for the weekend. His name is Prashant and he is currently pursuing his bachelor’s in engineering. He is 20 years old and is about 6 feet tall. He behaves like a typical older brother, in the sense that he irritates me whenever he gets an opportunity and he gets away with almost anything he does. He has got a clean image in the eyes of our parents. Today is Sunday and I am still scrolling through Melanie’s profile on Instagram
“Hey isn’t that Melanie Scott from the Dark World” My brother sneaked up behind me. I did not even notice him entering my room.
“Yeah” I replied.
“She was very good in her role”
“So why are you viewing her insta profile, have a crush eh?” my brother said in a cheeky way.
“No no, I just want to be friends with her. I just want to meet with her in real life. I actually messaged her on instagram and am waiting for her reply” I confidently said. To which my brother burst into laughter and I knew what he is going to say, but I decided to let him say what he wants to.
“Where were you when god was distributing common sense among people” My brother spoke after his outrageous laugh.
“I know it’s a long shot, but you never know” I defended myself.
“Let me tell you some facts, Melanie has twenty-two million followers in Instagram, even if 0.01 % people message her daily, that is around 2200 messages, would she be able to reply to everyone. She would usually ignore these kinds of messages. She would not even know that you exist in this world, becoming friends is a far more amazing and difficult feat to achieve.” My brother stated some hard facts to swallow.
“Is there no way for me to meet her then” I said with a dismayed face.
“Let her know that you exist in this world” my brother gave a solution.
“How?” I said with hope in my eyes.
“Reach the top. Famous people hangout with famous people, become famous and announce it to the whole world. You have to become a comparable person to the one you want to befriend. Fairytales about a nobody marrying a princess may sound good, but does not happen in real life.” my brother parted his wisdom to me.
“Looks like you have experienced this yourself” I said jokingly.
“I may have had a crush on Taylor Swift, but no need to worry everyone goes through this phase in their life”
The words of my brother hit me hard, but he has a point. A famous person will always hangout with famous people.
“Hey don’t take it this seriously, if it was that easy everyone would be a celebrity” my brother said in a carefree manner, but he was too late, as I had made up my mind to become famous and meet Melanie Scott at any cost. My motivation had just skyrocketed and was on another galaxy. There was just one problem though.
“How do you become famous?” I questioned my brother.
“I don’t know! if I knew the exact steps to become famous then we would have had a celebrity in our house by now. All I can say is that, just focus on the work you like and excel in that line of work.” He said and then left the room.
For the first time in my entire life, my brother has given me some good advice. Respect for my brother that day increased and my mission to become famous started from here. I have to be on equal footing with Melanie for her to know of my existence in this world. Should not be that difficult, right? I just need to know a way to become famous and job done, I thought.
So, as any teen living in the twenty first century would do when in need of an answer to a problem he does not know how to solve, I opened up google in my laptop and typed in ‘How to become famous’. 1000 sites popped up in second with their answer to my problem and I must say the answers which popped out were hilarious, but not in any way useful. For instance, one answer stated that you could open a reality show with dirty talks in it, with seminude models as hosts. It made me laugh so hard that I literally fell from my bed and hurt my head in the process. Most of the links were click bait’s and started with the generic ‘three easy steps to become famous’. So, I started looking for answers on Quora. To my surprise the answers on Quora were even more hilarious than on google. Someone wrote about making a silly video, post it on YouTube and just wait for the masses to see your foolery. It was not totally wrong as I have seen people becoming famous like that, but I don’t think that kind of fame would help me in achieving my goal of meeting Melanie. I searched for more than two hours, but came out with zero ideas or ways to become famous. I closed my laptop and took out my phone, connected my earphones, closed my eyes and imagined the charming face of Melanie. Imagining Melanie’s face before sleeping had become a routine of sorts for past couple of days. Her face and smile had just become my sleeping pills. Her smiling face just soothes my nerves and calms me down. “Good night Melanie” I spoke in my mind and then went to sleep at 3Am.
“Wake up, it’s already 7 am. You will be late for school” My mother shouted at top of her voice.
Early morning school on Mondays for students and office on Mondays for employees are a curse, which every human in this planet has to experience.
“Come on let me sleep for five more minutes.” I said in a drowsy tone, still half asleep.
“Your bus comes in 30 minutes, get up quickly” my mother replied and strolled out of the room.
My mother is a house maker in her early forties. She is melodramatic in some ways, but I love her with all my heart. She does a lot for this family and all the members in our family appreciate her very much.
I woke up 5 minutes later and now have 25 minutes to get ready. These kinds of situations teach a person real time management and Multi-tasking in my opinion. So without further delay, I went to the bathroom, took my tooth brush, applied some paste on it and started brushing my teeth. I then got out of the bathroom and opened the cupboard in my room to take out my uniform. I switched on the ironing machine and started to iron my shirt and pant, while simultaneously brushing my teeth. On completing both the tasks in 5 minutes, I then proceeded to take a bath. I completed my bath in 10 minutes and wore my uniform with water still dripping from my hair. I then took my bag from my study table, which was untouched for the whole weekend and proceeded to wear my shoes. I am ready and checked the time on the clock. There were still 5 minutes left, so I decided to have some cornflakes.
My mother came in with a bowl of milk to which I added the cornflakes.
“You have got to be the 8th wonder of the world. You get ready so quickly that it astonishes me” my mother looked impressed.
“It’s just years of experience” I said jokingly.
I left my house to catch my bus and as soon as I sat in the bus, I slept again. I must say one has to be really sleepy if he could sleep in a moving bus. The bus unfortunately reached the school on time and with it disturbed my wonderful little nap. I got off the bus and started to move towards my class. As I was walking towards the class, I suddenly sensed someone’s hand on my shoulder. As I looked back, I saw Reyansh sir standing behind me.
“Good morning Shyan, how was your weekend?” He initiated the conversation
“Good morning sir, the weekend was good.”
“Good to hear. Hey so I have to conduct a speaking skill assessment in today’s class and I do not have any good topics right now. Do you have any good ideas?”
“What do you want the assessment related to?” I asked.
“Just any topic that would invoke originality within the speaker” Reyansh sir replied. I pondered over some topics and then the perfect topic just hit me like a bullet train.
“Sir, let’s make the topic ‘How would you become famous’ ” I said. This would be a perfect excuse to get others to tell their approach towards becoming famous. One could even speak the exact solution I am looking for to become famous. This is a masterstroke, I thought.
“The topic is not an easy one Shyan” Reyansh sir exclaimed
“It’s original and could make a great speaking skill assessment” I tried to convince him.
“I agree, well then the topic has been decided. Thanks Shyan”
“You are welcome sir”
Now I just had to wait for the English period to get some kind of idea on how to become famous. The wait for English period was very long, so I just went into my imaginative world created by me during the other periods to pass the time.
I imagined Melanie and me going to an amusement park, taking the roller coaster ride with us holding hands. I imagined the soft touch of her hands and her sweet shrilled voice talking to me. We then went to the horror house, where a fake ghost would scare her and I will be there for her. She would then hold onto my shoulder and tell me to stay near her as she is scared of ghost. We would then sit on a bench with my hand on her hand, while we admired the sunset. I was having the time of my life with Melanie in my world, when suddenly I could hear someone calling my name.
“Shyan, quit dozing off and tell us the answer of the question written on the board” The maths teacher shattered my bubble. I snapped out from my world and looked on the board and saw an equation which I had to differentiate.
“The answer is 2/2x+2” I answered the question.
“Good, it is the right answer.”
I was not in any mood to hear compliments. I was having a good time until ma’am collapsed my dream of Melanie. I tried to get regroup my thoughts of Melanie and me going to amusement park again, but to no use.
“Shyan, seems to be out of it today” Anubhav said while chewing some red sauce pasta.
“Yeah, he is not even joining us to eat food” Aaryan commented after taking the fork from Anubhav.
“Leave him be, it just means more pasta for us” Karthik said as he waited for his turn. Cheeky bastard cared more about pasta than me.
I just ignored them and tried to get my thoughts of Melanie back again. I had just entered my imaginative world again, when suddenly I heard my name being called again.
“Shyan, Aaryan, Karthik and Anubhav get out of the class. How many times have I told you not to eat during my class.” maths ma’am said in an irritated tone.
“But I was not even eating this time” I defended myself.
“Do you want to go out of the class or go to the principal’s office” Maths teacher threatened me.
As I was about to speak again, my friend stood up and dragged me out of the class with them. Guess I had to take the punishment after all.
“Sorry Shyan, better to be outside the class than standing outside the principal’s office” Aaryan said in an apologetic tone.
“Well new week and a new day, but the same old punishment. I don’t know when ma’am will improvise.” I said jokingly.
“Next time, don’t drop the fork in the middle of the class Karthik” Aaryan said with disappointment in his tone.
“You got to be kidding me, I am outside of class because Karthik could not hold on to a simple fork” I said.
“What has happened to you Shyan, you look like you are out of synch with us today.” Aaryan said.
“Just some minor headache, don’t worry” I said. I have not revealed my day dreaming of Melanie to them and I do not intend to reveal it any time soon.
“Let’s see what -ma’am will say to us this time” Anubhav said as we waited for the period to get over.
The period got over and this time ma’am did not scold us. She just went past us like we did not exist. We also did not think about it too much and went into the class as if nothing had happened.
The next period is English period and I could not wait for it to start. Soon Reyansh sir entered the class and announced about the speaking skill assessment.
“So, the topic for today will be ‘how would you become famous’, you will get two minutes to speak” Sir announced. “So, let’s start with Shyan, come up and speak you heart out”.
‘You got to be kidding me’ is the phrase I am feeling right now. It is like the move I played came back to haunt me. I had given this topic, because I wanted to know how to become famous. I got up and went to the front and stood in front of the class wondering what to say. I thought about it for two minutes and spoke about the only answer I knew.
“Good morning sir and my dear friends so topic for today is ‘How would you become famous?’.” I started with greeting everyone present in the room. “My approach to becoming famous is by creating a reality show with beautiful models hosting it” I quoted the answers I had got from google. Everyone in the class started to laugh while Aaryan and Anubhav started to cheer me from behind. I gave some more examples I learned from Quora and the class erupted in laughter every single time I mentioned a new method, but I finished my little session with the wise words said to me by my brother.
“In the end I would like to say” Took a pause and made eye contact with the class “Focus on the job you like to do and Through your hard work become famous in that line of work” I finished with this statement and the whole class bursts into applause.
“Shyan that was some interesting methods you have shared with us on becoming famous” Reyansh sir said shockingly.
What he really wanted to say was “What the heck was that Shyan” I imagined.
“So moving on, who wants to come next?” Reyansh sir diverted his attention to the class.
Now is the time to get other people’s opinion and strategies on becoming famous. Let’s see if they could give a way to become famous.
The first few speakers were fairly disappointing, as they just told about working hard and hope you get noticed. I had lost all hope of getting a suitable answer from this session, until Aaryan came to speak on the topic.
“Becoming famous, depends on the profession you choose, an actor has a far greater chance of becoming famous than a gymnast or a business man. If I asked about some names of gymnasts or business men most of you would come up with less than 10 names, but if I ask the same question with respect to actors then you would come up with at least 20 names. Choosing your profession where you can connect with masses is important.” Aaryan Explained.
What Aaryan said was not rocket science. I had thought of becoming famous by becoming an actor, but I was not that good in acting or singing. I needed to find a profession, which played to my strengths.
The rest of the people who spoke after Aaryan were repetitive and not helpful at all. The session did not give me a great idea for success. I was disappointed, but not surprised. It was a long shot anyway. My quest for meeting Melanie has not died yet, but I am not getting the right stepping stone to start my journey.
After the English class ended, there was a buzz going around the class about how lame the topic of assessment was. I just took my bag and left the class.
[CHAPTER-4] — THE SOLUTION
Another month went by and I still had zero idea on how to start my journey. I had become a research maniac in that time. I researched into many professions in that time, for example did you know that 1 kg of caviar costs 10,000 $, but they have to wait 9 years for the sturgeon to grow for laying eggs. The job of fish farming had the money, but not the fame.
I even searched on how to make a deal with demons. My desire for Melanie had taken me that far. So, I got some black candles and a satanic bible in my home. I lit up the candles and started to read from the satanic bible at midnight, when everyone was asleep. Guess what? nothing happened. I guess I pushed my philosophy of ‘doing it first and thinking about it later’ a little too far. Even after executing black magic rituals, I was still on the starting base. I was getting irritated on my part and was starting to lose my patience. I would often look at Melanie’s pictures saved in my phone, but that worked only for some time. I needed some motivation, so I started to read the life stories of some famous people. I liked most of the stories, but one story about the world biggest drug lord from Colombia just gave me the right amount of pleasure. We all know his name, Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria. The epic journey of a man who was a nobody at first, but had the US government on its heels at his peak. His methods did not inspire me, but his journey taught me one thing, that is to treat the people around you with care and respect. Fun fact, he had 25 billion dollars of estimated money stored somewhere when he was killed in an encounter. Well the story did give me some motivation, but I am still nowhere close to becoming famous.
The school exams were coming close and I had to take extra classes in the school, as apparently no teacher had high hopes for me scoring good marks in the upcoming exams. The extra classes were an extra added burden in my life. My schedule was getting hectic and tough to maintain.
The frustration in me was getting out of control. I looked calm in front of my friends and family, but the thought of me not meeting Melanie in the real life, started to frustrate and haunt me from inside. I needed something to vent my frustration out and needed something that soothes my nerve for the day.
I and my friends were walking down the staircase from the top floor, when suddenly we saw the principal climbing up the stairs. We did not want to have a conversation with the principal, as we were out bunking our maths class. So we climbed up the stairs and went all the way to the entrance door of the roof, which was always locked. We waited for 5 minutes in front of the locked door for the principal to get out of sights. In those 5 minutes I noticed a key like object behind the empty flower pot, which was kept at the side of the door. I did not make any fuss about it, while my friends were present there. I just came back later that day, picked up the key from behind the flower pot and tried to open the locked door of the roof. Bingo! Now I had access to the rooftop, which no student had. The view from the top was beautiful and scenic. After 10 minutes of inspection, I kept the key back into its original position and returned back to class. I regularly visited the roof in the morning after that day. The roof is just the place to have some lonely time and vent out my frustration.
Later I made a habit of coming to the roof and shouting my guts off. The shouting would just clam me down enough, to get through the day and no one would come and disturb me. The roof had become my favorite place and the place where I would gain inner piece for the day.
Moving on, I did gain a lot of information this month, but nothing benefitted or gave me a solution for my problem. So, today is 14th February, a very special date for me. Not because of Valentine’s Day, but because it is Melanie Scott’s birthday, she turns 15 today. I had waited for this day, more than my birthday. I wished her on Instagram at exactly 12:00 AM, which I knew she would not see or reply to. I woke up at 7 AM and checked my Instagram again, no message from her side, but there was a new post in her Instagram account. The post showed her families and close friends circling around her and cutting the birthday cake together with Melanie.
I just imagined myself in that image, surprising Melanie and wishing her happy birthday, with her smiling back at me and thanking me with a hug. What a moment that would be I thought, but I was not on equal stature right now.
I went to the school and saw many boys carrying roses in their hands for the Valentine’s Day. I did not bring any roses as today I was not celebrating valentine, but the birthday of my beloved Melanie.
I went into the class and saw a bunch of boys hurdled around having a meeting of sorts. I joined the hurdle, as I did not want to be left out.
“Boys, this is the day we have been waiting for the past whole year. Let’s not waste this perfect opportunity provided by the Romans. We have got the whole day to express our feelings to our loved ones. It’s now or never. So, repeat with me, today is the day I propose the girl of my dream” Aaryan motivated the hurdle.
“Today is the day I propose the girl of my dream” Everyone said in unison.
“I will propose to Aahna today” Said Anubhav.
“Me too” Said another.
“But I was gonna propose Aahna today” Said a third person altogether. I was standing there, processing on what the heck just happened.
All the unity the boys had, vanished into thin air. We actually had a civil war in the class going about right now, because most of them wanted to propose the same girl. To which Aaryan just added the fuel.
“Hey, hey no fighting, may the best man win” Aaryan made his point and initiated the race for Aahna.
Let me tell you something about Aahna, she is what you call the popular girl of the school. She is 17 years old, studying in the same standard as me, but in a different class. She is a tomboyish type of girl, with short hairs. She has fair complexion skin and beautiful blue eyes. She is half Indian and half British. Her mother is British and her father is Indian. She is about is about w inches and let me tell you she is a tough nut to crack. A girl that famous is bound to get proposals on a daily basis, yet she has never been in a relationship in this school.
You may be wondering how I can be so sure about her relationship status. Well I had been friends with her for a year. It is a long story, but in short, I participated in a debate competition happening in the school on Reyansh sir insistence. I was given 2 minutes to speak and if I had exceeded that time, then my points would start getting deducted. On stage I started speaking and was about to come to the point, that would sum up my views on the topic, but my time ran out, with a buzzer reminding me to wrap up my speech. Generally I would have wrapped up my debate right there, but I don’t know what happened to me that day. I openly started criticizing about the time limit in front of the judges on the mic.
“Please stop that buzzer, what is the point of participating in a debate if I can’t put my point in front of the people. I don’t care if I win or lose, just let me speak for two more minutes” were the exact words I spoke in front of everybody. As you may have guessed, I did not win the competition, but none the less I had created an impression in front of the people. Guess the person who won the competition? It was none other than Aahna.
After winning the competition she came to me and asked me why I participated in the competition if I did not want to win. I just told her that in a debate winning or losing is secondary, but putting your point in front of the people should be our main focus. That was a cheesy line to say, but hey it got me her number. We would text each other casually sometimes and no one in my friend circle really knows about it. Oh, I forgot to mention one more fact about Aahna. She has the British accent when she speaks making her speech sometimes incomprehensible.
Coming to the present, the whole class is deep in thought on how to propose Aahna. I just stood there and enjoyed seeing everyone’s dilemma. Many of them came with a straight forward plan of giving a rose to her and saying ‘I Love You’. Well according to my chats with Aahna, she does not like boys who straight forwardly ask her out. She would like to know the person first.
The first period started and maths ma’am started to teach us integration, but everybody in the class are just not mentally present in the class, except the toppers. Everybody is in their own world, boys thinking about proposing and girls thinking about on how to respond to the proposals and then there were toppers who did not care about valentines.
I too started imagining about me holding a rose and giving it to Melanie. The thought of me giving a rose to Melanie, just creates a childlike bliss in my heart. The feeling cannot by defined by some words. The feeling was like a kid getting a chocolate ice cream on a summer day.
The day went on and many our runners tried their luck on proposing Aahna, but none of them succeeded and were brutally rejected. I knew this was gonna happen, but I hoped that someone would succeed. The rumors about Aahna rejecting over 30 boys on valentines started to circulate all over the school. The whole incident is funny to me, but a sense of jealousy started to brew within me. The thought of those 30 boys at least having the chance to be face to face with the one they admire and like just started to frustrate me from within.
So, I decided to go to the roof after my class to shout out my frustration. This is the first time I am going to the roof in afternoon as I always went there in morning.
To my surprise the roof is already unlocked. I thought that I may have not locked it from morning and entered the roof. I scanned the area and could not see anyone. I looked at the sky, closed my eyes and shouted with all my might.
“Happy birthday Melanie, I will someday say that to you face to face”
A small tickle of tear came out of my right eye and ran through my cheek after I shouted this statement. I did not know what has happened to me. I think the reality is starting to set in. A common boy like me getting to meet a celebrity on equal turfs was already a long shot.
“Don’t shout or someone will find out that the roof is not locked” someone said from behind me with a very familiar voice.
I snapped out of my thoughts and completely froze for a second. I turned back slowly to look who it is. As I turned back, I see Reyansh sir with a lit cigarette in his hand taking a puff. I quickly rubbed off the tear running through my cheek. Now the situation has become awkward to say the least. Imagine it yourself, a student comes into a supposedly locked roof and screams happy birthday to some girl. I stood their silently as I have no words to say.
“Who is Melanie, new crush eh?” Reyansh sir asked.
“Nothing like that, what are you doing on the roof anyway?” I counter questioned.
Sir just showed me the cigarette in his hand.
“I come to smoke here. Smoking is not allowed in the school premises for some reason. Don’t tell anyone about it, who other than you know about the roof?”.
“No one else knows about the roof, I just wanted the roof for myself”.
“Yeah, I guessed that much could not imagine seeing a bunch of students coming up here and shouting like a pack of wolves. What’s with the shouting anyway?” Reyansh sir asked me.
“Just a routine exercise to vent out the inner frustration in me” I answered.
“This exercise can just bust our little secret roof, I had to put in a lot of effort to duplicate the key to the roof”. Reyansh sir explained.
“If you had put in more effort in hiding the key, I would have not found it” I said cheekily.
“So, who is this Melanie girl anyway? It’s valentine’s day today, it is better to express your feelings face to face, than shouting at nobody” looks like Reyansh sir heard the full sentence.
“That is the problem, I can’t have a face to face with her in real life”.
“What do you mean?” Reyansh sir could not make sense of what I was saying.
I explained everything to Reyansh sir, about my feelings for Melanie and my desire to meet her in real life. My mind just wanted to share my thoughts with someone and homo-sapiens are a social animal, right? I told sir all about my desire of becoming famous enough for Melanie to acknowledge my existence. I even told him about my lack of ideas on becoming famous. He listened intently to what I had to say and when I finished explaining he stood in his place dead silence.
“So, what do you think, do I have a chance?” I asked him for his opinion.
He smiled at me and then bursts into a laughter spree. He laughed so hard that he almost lost his balance. I just stood there like a fool, regretting my decision of telling him about Melanie. At last he calmed down after a minute. He then he took another cigarette out of his pocket and lighted it.
“Sorry for that. I just could not stop laughing because you thought that giving a topic on ‘How to become famous’ to students of your class would give you a solution to your problem.” He may have calmed down, but there was still a hint of smile on his face.
“Yeah yeah, I get that I am a stupid boy who thought way over his head” I admitted.
“Well your dream is not impossible. I have heard people getting in love with an animated character, at least your love lives in real life, right?” Reyansh sir goes into another laughing spree.
I just took his cigarette out of his mouth, stomped it into the ground and crushed it with my feet.
“Hey, come on, one cigarette costs 15 rupees. Why would you do that?” Reyansh sir said with sadness as he looked at the crushed cigarette.
“I had to cut your laughter or your cigarette, because both were become irritating” I said in an irritated voice.
“I know that you are upset, but come on it’s almost an impossible task. We already have difficulties having a relationship with normal Indian girls and here you want to have a relationship with a foreigner who is a star. Guess your own odds of this actually happening.”
“That is why I want to be famous, so that at least we can be on equal turf”.
’I do not know how would you meet her, but I do have an idea which could make you famous.” Now that suddenly catches my attention.
“How” I asked.
“You could start writing novels, the sci-fi stories I have seen you write in the exams are quite unique”
“Well I don’t think that novelists are that famous”
“Actor may fulfill his role he is designed to play, but the designer in the shadows is the writer who has written the story. I still remember your short story about a scientist who made a serum to advance the evolution process in animals to fight humanity. I literally thought that you were high on weed or something, to write something so ambitious really needs a very creative mind.” Reyansh sir praised me or maybe he called me a junkie? I don’t know.
“Will I have a chance to meet Melanie, if I become a novelist?”
“You will not know unless you try, what is there to lose anyway” Reyansh sir pointed out the obvious.
I pondered over the thought, becoming a novelist is not a bad idea. I could have a chance of meeting Melanie and a chance is all I need. My philosophy of doing it first and thinking about it later still applies. So, I decided on the road I would take to reach my destination.
“Not a bad idea sir” I said.
“Wait! Why do you look like you have accepted my idea? I was joking, you are not serious on becoming novelist right? It is very difficult to become a famous author.” Reyansh sir said with hesitation.
“No pain no gain and if being successful was that easy everybody would have become successful” I said with full determination. Reyansh sir just shook his head in disbelief and walked towards the stairs.
“Just lock the roof when you are about to leave and leave the key under the flower pot. I have some work to do” Reyansh sir said. He threw the key towards me and then left me alone on the roof.
I caught the key and looked at the blue sky above me. I looked at the sky for 5 minutes and then shouted.
“I am coming Melanie, just wait for me”
This time I had made sure no one was beside, behind or above me. I locked the door to the roof, put the key under the flower pot and went on my merry way to my class.
I reached home, changed my clothes, took my laptop and sat on my study table. I wanted to start writing a novel right away. I opened Microsoft word and opened the novel template in the word. I am excited to write my first novel. I mean how difficult writing a novel can be?
I saw an empty title space where I had to write the title of my novel. I just sat there for the next one hour and came up with 0 ideas for my novel. First coming up with ideas for becoming famous and now coming up with ideas for writing a novel, it’s just been jumping from one brainstorming session to another. This is a complete disaster to say the least. I sat there for another hour, not writing a single word on my laptop. I gave up after thirty more minutes and closed my laptop. This is going to be harder than I thought it would be.
I just took my phone with me and lay on the bed to pass the time. I opened Instagram and messaged Melanie about the dilemma I am facing right now, but this time I needed a person who can message me back so that I can have some kind of conversation. So, I scrolled down my past messages to see who I could talk too. I stopped at Aahna and decided to have a conversation with her. It had been two months since last I had messaged her.
“Hey, tough day today, I guess. Heard you had a pile of people you had to reject”
I messaged her on WhatsApp and to my surprise I got an instant reply from her. She apparently got twenty-two proposals today, with twelve of them being from her own class and ten being from other sections. She asked me if I had proposed anyone today. I denied and told that I was not interested in anyone right now. We chatted for a while and then said our goodnights to finish the texting. It feels so nice when someone responds to the messages you are sending. I thought about Melanie texting me back, but I and Melanie having a general conversation was still a dream for me. A dream I would like to convert into reality.
[CHAPTER-5] — BED RIDDEN
If finding ways to become to famous was difficult? Then finding the right story for your novel is a massacre. It’s not like that I have no idea at all, In fact I had the basic plot or story of the novel in my head. It’s just starting to write and converting that story into some sixty thousand words manuscript is becoming too much of a pain. My roof sessions with Reyansh sir had continued and I often asked his advice on structuring of the novel, to which he said.
“I have been trying to write a novel for five years and none of the novels I started has been longer than twenty pages” he declared his incompetency.
I tried to find answers on Quora, but Quora was again a big disappointment. I needed some kind inspiration for writing a novel. I struggled for six more months to start my novel and am still struggling till this moment.
Meanwhile, the second season of ‘Dark World’ is going to release in a week. The hype for the season is fantastic and I could not wait to see Melanie again in the series. I just wanted to binge watch the season peacefully at my home, but the school is going to come between me and the second season. The second season is going to release on this Sunday and I would most probably download all the episodes by Monday. At max I would need at least a whole day or two to binge watch it. I needed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to download and binge watch ‘Dark World’. So, I came up with a brilliant plan of faking a fever and taking holidays on those days. We have all faked an illness to skip school at some point of our life, haven’t we?
On the release of ‘Dark World’ I started to fake some headaches and stomach ache. So that when I take the off on Monday, it could be more believable and realistic.
I waited for the season 2 of the ‘Dark World’ to be uploaded on torrent websites. The season 2 torrent got live on 6AM on Monday, I started the download and operation ‘holiday’.
“I am not feeling good today, I may have fever.” I lied to my mother and started to make my move. I tried to look weak and added a fake cough for insurance.
“What happened Shyan? You did not look well yesterday too” My mom said felling for my acting yesterday.
“I don’t think I would be able to go to school today” I laid down my real intention.
“My god, your temperature is really high. You will need to see a doctor.” My mom said while touching my forehead. I am a bit hot this morning, but I thought it was because of the excitement of the new season.
We went to see the doctor in afternoon. I had just pretended that I am unwell, but when the doctor took the temperature it came out to be 102 degrees. He insisted on blood test as dengue cases are high at this time. My blood result came after 2 hours and my god, I have dengue according to my low platelet count.
I am shocked to say the least. I have to now be admitted at the hospital for the whole week to recover my platelets in my blood.
This played beautifully into my hands I thought. Now I could watch the season 2 in peace. I have downloaded the season and it is stored in my laptop. This could even be a perfect opportunity for me to think about my novel. Isolation is a must, if you want to work on something.
I got admitted into the hospital in the evening, with my mother bringing me the essentials and my laptop. She stayed with me till nine and then left for home. She told me to take care and that she would come to visit me in the morning.
Now, Here I am with a glucose bottle drip in my arm, laptop in my lap and no one in the world to disturb me. I started my binge watch spree of the second season, with real enthusiasm and anticipation.
The season has progressed with Melanie growing up and looking even more stunning. The first episode of the season 2 is good, but there is a new character introduced in the story who actually flirts with Melanie and that did not please me at all. The new character started to get on my nerves from the moment he arrived in the series.
The new character is played by a guy named Dustin Miller. He is a normal looking foreign teenager with blond hair and black eyes.
The first three episodes were full of Dustin flirting with Melanie, but Melanie did not gave him much attention. I was happy till now, but the next three episodes were the painful ones. Here Melanie started to flirt back with Dustin, with me looking intently at screen, hoping against the worst-case scenario. In the final episode Dustin and Melanie were going to take a leap of faith in the portal and what came after was my worst case scenario. They kissed in the final part of the episode and jumped into the portal while they were holding hands.
There is a moment in everyone’s life where you think that your life just crumbles before your eyes. I think that this scene is that moment in my life. My heartbeat rose, with my temper reaching an different planet altogether and my common sense buried deep underground at this moment. I am so furious due to this scene that I started to push nearby objects. I pushed my laptop out of my lap, I pushed table beside my bed and I shoved my glucose drip stand with huge force. The glucose drip stand fells and with it the short tube in my arm which is attached to the glucose drip rips up from my arm. The force was so tremendous that blood started to trickle down my arm. Low platelets were now secondary in front of my wounded heart. Blood now dripped from my arm, tears tripped down my cheeks and glucose leaked from the pack. With so many things leaking, I decided to bring my common sense back and stopped the bleeding with some cotton. Wiped my tears with my hand and picked up the glucose drip stand to place it next to my bed. I arranged the room as it was and just went to sleep right away because I thought sleep would let me forgot about this, but as soon as I closed my eyes. I just saw Dustin and Melanie holding each other’s hand and kissing passionately. The sleep was dreadful, but I did sleep.
“What happened to your drip?” the nurse in charge of me asked. Waking me up from my deep sleep
“I wanted to go to the washroom at night so I took it out and I did not know how to reinsert it” I lied with me being half asleep.
“You could have asked us to reinsert it, it is important for us to get your platelets up” the nurse said cheerfully.
“Yeah, hey do you have a roof in this hospital which is open?” I asked.
“Yes, it is a great way for the patients to have fresh air. Just use the elevator to get there” the enthusiasm of the nurse really ticked me off a little, but she told me what I wanted to know.
I needed the roof to vent out my frustration as my whole body wanted me to scream at top of my voice at this very moment. I took the elevator and pressed the button for the roof and waited for the elevator to reach the top. The inbuilt music which is installed in the elevator started to ring in my ear.
The elevator stopped and the opened up on the roof. I got off the elevator and entered the roof. The roof in the hospital is smaller than the one in my school, but the view from the hospital is much more pleasing to the eye. I quickly scanned the roof for any person present on the roof. As soon as I realized that no one is present on the roof. I took a deep breath and with all my might started to scream at top of my voice.
“Life sucks without Melanie, Dustin is shit. When will my time come? The kiss broke me down god, give me some motivation to start my novel for god sake.”
I shouted for a good ten minutes. I stopped afterwards because I was starting to feel dizzy, maybe because of the low platelets. I sat on a pavement and stared at the gloomy sky, with the sun covered in clouds. I then realized that I asked a favor from god using god’s sake, well he would understand the meaning behind it. As I gazed the sky for my peace of mind, I hear the opening of the elevator door and started to hear a frustrated voice mumbling loudly.
“I can’t go here, I can’t go there. I am already dying, so why can’t they leave me alone” a bald man in his early fifties entered the roof and mumbled. He looked weak and malnourished and walked with the help of a walking stick with him. He has pale colored skin and many wrinkles on his face due to old age.
I just sat in my place observing him from a distance. He took out a pack of cigarettes, lit one cigarette and took a puff. He finished half of his cigarette before noticing me.
“Hey kid you look new here, why are you admitted in this hospital?” He asked me as he looked at the drip on my hand.
“Dengue, a mosquito got the better of me. Why are you in this hospital for?” I counter questioned.
“Cancer last stage” He said while lighting another cigarette.
“Wait! Then why are you smoking. Smoking could have been the reason you are having cancer” I deduced.
“Let me tell you something kid, I did not drink or smoke before having this cancer, but I got this curse anyway.”
“Still you should not smoke while in this stage”
“Kid, let me ask you something. Why do people advise against smoking?” He asked.
“People advise against smoking because it causes cancer”
“Then what worse can smoking do to me, at least I can enjoy my life in my last six months.”
“Still, you should think about your family. They would be very disappointed in you if they see you right now” I added his family to get him emotional and stop him from smoking further.
“My son died when he was ten years old in a car accident, my wife committed suicide after two years of my son’s accident. My parents were in their mid-eighties when they died. The only ones left of my family are some cousin relatives who I have not talked for the last ten years” HE said with a straight face. Boy did my move backfire at me.
“Sucks to be you I must say” I said.
“No shit Sherlock, it sucks to be me. At least you have the guts to say the truth. All the others who hear my story just sympathize with me.”
He stood up and started to move towards the back of the roof. I sat there wondering where he is going. He then came back with a bottle of whisky, two plastic glasses and a bottle of soda. I sat there dumbstruck for a moment right there, I mean imagine a cancer patient like him, he smokes and stashes out his drinks on the roof, what is next? He having weed stashed somewhere.
“Man, we are in a hospital for god sake. How did you even smuggle these in?” I asked.
“I have stashed a small fridge at the back. I have been admitted here for more than 2 years after all. Here, open the whisky bottle.” He passed me the bottle and placed the glass on the pavement.
“Dude I am below the permittable drinking age, I do not even know how to open a whisky bottle.” I placed my dilemma.
“Here let me teach you” He took the bottle in his hands, ripped of the upper seal and opened the cap “Here, you learn something new every day” he said while pouring whisky into the two plastic glasses.
“Man, I do not drink, it is eight in the morning. My mom will be co-” I was saying when suddenly a messaged popped up on my phone, it was from my mom. She said that she would come in evening to visit me as some important work has her occupied.
“Looks like we don’t have any problems about your mom coming” He said while peeking on my phone.
He handed me the plastic cup with whisky and soda. I couldn’t refuse his offer, I don’t know why. He has also brought some chips to eat with the whisky.
“Here is to my pathetic life” He said to me as he banged his glass with my glass to form a cheers moment.
I just stood there staring at the old man as he gulped his drink in one shot. He looked at me and said “A good drink always soothes your nerve and helps you come out of the bad things happening in your lives”. Here I am drinking with a stranger who I just met like 5 minutes ago.
“Does it really help you to forget your bad memories” I asked him.
“Yes, it indeed does. Look at my age, experience speaks for itself” He declared.
I looked at my glass and in the brief moment of reflection I saw Melanie and Dustin kissing each other. Maybe drinking alcohol is not the worst idea at the moment. I just took my glass and gulped down the drink. It was bitter and the tasted was very bad. How do people drink this was my first thought, but I wanted more of this elixir to forget that kiss. I guess the bitter taste of the whisky combats the bitter memories in your head.
“Here pour one more” I demanded.
“Now that’s the spirit” He said and poured the drink in my glass. I noticed that this time the quantity of whisky is more than the previous drink. While we were drinking our second round of our drinks, it suddenly hit me that I do not even know his name.
“What is your name by the way uncle?” I asked while sipping my drink, the taste of the whisky is getting better with every sip.
“Damn, I did not even introduce myself. My name is Nitish” He said.
“My name is Shyan, what is the meaning of your name?” I asked while getting a little drunk.
“My name means that I am the master of right way” He said.
“Amen to that” I said and we both burst into laughter. The drinking continued for another hour, with me getting 3 more refills.
“It has been a long time since I have had someone accompany me while drinking” The old man burped after finishing his fifth drink.
Now we were seriously drunk. I had no previous experience of drinking and did not know what to expect. Inside me my emotions were going haywire and I was getting very talkative and friendly, but the one memory I had been trying to forget with the help of the whisky is running in loop in my head.
“Life is the worst enemy of a human, it finds different ways to screw your life and the sad part is that we cannot do anything about it” I proclaimed in my fully drunken state.
“Life is never fair, but you have to keep moving forward” The old man stated.
This is what alcohol does to you. You began to be more philosophical and wisdom, which even you did not know existed within you starts flowing out.
My head started to spin and the introvert person I had been all this year had gone into hibernation. I had begun drinking because I was sad and upset because of the kiss, but now I am laughing with all my heart. I started laughing at myself, for thinking that I had any chance of meeting Melanie. I was laughing at my efforts to write a novel to become famous.
“What is the joke, tell me?” The old man asked me after seeing me laughing this hard.
“It’s me, I am the joke.” I said while still laughing.
“I think you have had too much to drink” The old man said stating the obvious fact.
“Is our destiny already decided or do we make our own destiny?” I asked the old man in a serious tone.
“We make our own destiny, in fact it is our choices which decide our destiny” the old man said.
There was a moment building up and I felt a lot better, but then I suddenly felt something rattling in my stomach. Something riled up from my stomach and travelled across my neck. In a matter of seconds all the drinks I had consumed in the last one hour now came out in one pile of mess.
“And here I was going to compliment you not getting a back on your first drink” The old man said and patted my back as I continued to puke.
“I am good” I said when I finished puking. “I think I should take my leave” I said and stood up.
I tried to walk straight, but failed at that task miserably. I stumbled across the roof to reach the elevator. I stood in front of the elevator for five minutes, but the elevator did not come up.
“Why is the elevator not coming up” I asked the old man.
“Guess you have to press the button to summon the lift” He said with his finger pointing towards the button.
“My bad” I said after realizing how stupid I was.
The lift came and I went back to my room and lay down on the bed. Then I realized that I have dengue and asked the nurse to insert the glucose drip in my arm. The nurse inserted the glucose drip and I went into a long slumber. This was the best sleep I have had ever in my life. I just felt so good when I closed my eyes. My mind felt completely empty and tension free.
I slept all afternoon like a child. I was eventually woken up by my mother who had come to visit me in the evening.
“Wake up Shyan its evening already” My mother said to wake me up from my sleep.
I woke up and saw myself on a mirror hanging in front of my bed. I looked like shit, with black eyes and bed hair. As I was staring myself in the mirror, a strange pain started to engulf in my brain.
“Hey there, you look like you are having a rough day” My mother said while cutting some fruits she had brought for me.
“Yeah, can I get some water please?” I requested with a coarse voice coming out of my mouth.
My mother filled the glass kept on the table with water from the bottle and passed it to me.
“Here have some kiwi juice as well. Kiwi juice is very good to combat dengue” My mother said.
I took the glass and started to drink the juice. The headaches on my brain were getting worse minute by minute.
“Mom do you have any medicines for headaches?”
“Don’t worry normal headaches wear out quickly? It is not like you are having a hangover or something” My mother said jokingly.
“Yeah” I said nervously. What a guess by my mother. Her response made me uncomfortable and restless. I just remained silent for the most of the conversation with my mother.
My first hangover was painful to say the least. The headache lasted for hours before subsiding. My mother stayed with me for all evening before heading home. Now I was alone in my room again. The nurse came in for a final round of inspection and I decided to ask her about the old man, as I wanted to know more about him.
“Hey do you know anyone by the name Nitish admitted in the hospital” I asked the nurse.
“Yes I do, he has been in this hospital for about two years. He is very unlucky to be diagnosed with last stage cancer. He does not have much family left and there have been no visits from his friends lately. I guess you met him today?” The nurse asked.
“Yes. I met him on roof. We had a good conversation.” I skipped the bachelor party that happened on the roof.
“That’s nice, a little company would do him a world of good” The nurse said and left me.
I just now lay on my bed with my laptop in my lap, searching for a topic to start my novel. The end result being that I opened YouTube and started to watch videos in my recommendation. Cute cats and dogs interacting, my YouTube recommendation were filled with these kinds of videos. As I scrolled through my recommendations for more videos, a video thumbnail containing Melanie caught my eye. The title read ‘Melanie talks about her awkward kissing scene with Dustin.’ I had completely forgotten about Melanie and ‘Dark World’ for the whole day. It was the first time I had not thought about Melanie. The whisky had done its job, until YouTube went for a ‘Rewind Time’. The familiar ache in my heart made a comeback in a grand fashion. I did not have the courage to see the video. The Melanie and Dustin kissing again started to play in loop in my head, but then I remembered the words of the old man. Our choices form up our destiny. So, I choose to get over that kiss and start writing the novel, to get me a better chance of meeting Melanie.
I closed my laptop, closed my eyes and started to think of a topic for the novel. A topic which will be new in the market and something ground breaking in the field of Sci-fi. As usual determination does not transform into great ideas and I dozed off after two hours of mind-numbing thinking.
I woke up with high fever the next day. The nurse injected me with some medicine and told me that it is normal to have high temperatures during dengue. To be honest I had forgotten that I have dengue. These past few days were so eventful that I had forgotten the real reason I was in the hospital.
Even with my high fever I went to the roof, this time I just went to see the old man and not shout. I waited for two hours, but he did not come this time. I just went back to my room and waited for the nurse to come back with the blood report. When the nurse came into my room with my blood report, I decided to ask about the old man.
“Hey, so your platelet count is increasing and you would be discharged from the hospital in two or three days” Nurse said.
“That’s good news. Hey do you know what happened to Nitish, the old man admitted in your hospital” I asked.
“Oh, he actually tripped and fell on the floor yesterday. He has got a knee injury and due to his former condition, the injury is recovering very slowly. The people who picked him up after his fall say that the old man was drunk” The nurse said.
What the hell was that old man thinking. First drinking in his condition, then falling on his ass and getting hurt.
“Do you know in which ward is he in?” I asked.
“He is in the ward-3 room number 304” She replied.
I decided to pay him a visit in the evening. Meanwhile I decided to tell my mother the good news of getting discharged in two or three days. I called her and told her about the report. She seemed relieved and said to hang in there for two more days.
In the evening I went to see the old man and I was about to enter the room, when I heard a loud roar of celebration. I went inside and saw the old man lying on his bed with a forty-five-degree angle looking at the tv, which played a live India vs Australia cricket match.
“Come on don’t be so loud, you can be heard across the corridor. By the way what was the big idea of falling down and injuring yourself?” I said.
“Relax will you, it is no big deal” He said and concentrated on the match.
“God you are delusional” I said and put a hand on his right leg to check whether it hurts or not.
“The injury is on left leg by the way” He said while sensing my intention.
I checked his left leg and this time he writhed in pain. He tried to hide his expressions, but his human reflexes gave away his efforts.
“See, this is the consequences you have to face because of your actions” I said.
“Yeah, whatever if life screws me, I screw life back.”
“I would have said something like ‘it will get better’ or something like that, but you have got a last stage cancer, so no point in giving you false hope” I said with a cold look.
“Yeah boy, that is why I like you. You do not give me false hope like everyone else”
With this line I left him and went back to my room. I thought for 10 minutes and I decided on the topic of my novel. The story will revolve around an old guy who has lost everything, but still goes on to live life if nothing has happened. It is his way to retaliate against this cruel world, to prove that this world may do anything with him, he would always have a smile on his face.
I have decided on the topic and am keen on making a novel based on the old man.
[CHAPTER-6] — THE START
I returned from the hospital to my home. The experience of the hospital was something else. Anyway, I got my idea for the novel and started to formulate a sci-fi story with the old man as the main hero. I wanted to share my idea with Reyansh sir and get his views on it. I have to rejoin school this Monday and have to catch up with everyone too.
I went to the school and saw my friends in a group discussion of some sorts as soon as I entered the class. I approached them, as I wanted to be a part of the conversation too.
“Hey man what’s up” I said, announcing my return.
“Look who is back, I see you have increased your height” Aaryan said.
I guess I may not have notice it but I have grown somewhat in height. I guess a bottle of whisky and glucose is what I needed to increase my height. Disclaimer alert: don’t drink alcohol before the legal drinking age. If you drink illegally, then don’t mention this book as the source of your motivation.
“What are you discussing?” I asked.
“Let me tell y-” Anubhav was saying, when suddenly the maths teacher entered the class and told us to take our seats.
“I will tell you after the class” Anubhav said and sat on his desk.
The maths teacher welcomed my arrival in the school in a grand fashion. She welcomed me with a surprise test on the topic which was taught the previous week. I had skipped school the previous week due to dengue and did not know a thing about the topic which came in the test.
I just sat there with an empty answer sheet and a dismayed face. No point of waiting my time on something which I don’t know. I just closed my eyes and thought about my upcoming novel to pass the time. I imagined a superhero-based novel in which, many people have super powers, but our character a late bloomer finds himself out of the loop until the very late. He gets his power at the age of 50 or 60 and he will have the power of words, whatever he says becomes true, except the ones which could not be possible in reality. As I was structuring my novel in my mind, the maths teacher sneaked up on me and interrupted my chain of thoughts.
“Hey Shyan welcome back, dengue must have been bad?” Math ma’am asked.
“Not as bad as this test” was the thought on my mind.
“Not that bad, I recovered in about a week” I answered.
“So, about this test, you know that this test will be added in as ten percent of your final marks” She said.
“But I was not even present for the topics you covered previous week” I retaliated.
“Yes, I know, that is why I have only one question for you on the topic of differentiation and if you answer it, then you get full marks”
Dengue may have been a blessing in disguise. I just needed to solve one question while others had to solve ten questions to finish the test. I will take this deal any day in my life.
“Bring on the question ma’am” an overconfident me said, but ma’am came up with a question out of the RD Sharma book. RD Sharma is a nightmare for any student. I hoped for an okay question, but when has my expectation meet the reality. She came up with a difficult question and gave it to me.
“You got be kidding me ma’am” I said. All my confidence escaped my body in an instant
“Well its full marks or zero marks” Ma’am said and left.
“Overconfidence is not good Shyan” Karthik teased me from behind.
“Yeah, Yeah, focus on your own paper” I said. Well Karthik is not wrong. This question is the result of my overconfidence.
But with that statement Karthik, somewhat hurt my ego and let me tell you. Ego is a big part of a man and a man can do anything to save his reputation. With my ego hurt, I am admant to solve the question to prove Ma’am and Karthik wrong.
I tackled the question head on and tried to get an answer. I struggled for fifteen minutes, but did not have the suitable answer yet. I then relaxed for two minutes and tried to remember some tricks to solve a differentiation question. I decided to use the oldest trick in the book, that is to divide cos x on both numerator and denominator and voila it did the trick, it simplified my equation. ‘Old is gold’ is rightly said, because with this I solved the question and will get my full marks on this test.
I called ma’am to check my answer. Ma’am looked at my answer sheet and put a tick mark on my sheet. She gave me full marks and I sat on my seat with my right leg over my left like a boss.
After the period got over, I approached Anubhav and asked him about the thing he was about to say to me.
“So, we have decided to have a get together of sorts this weekend, with us four, Ruchika and Aahna.” Anubhav said with exitement.
“How did you get Aahna on board with this plan?” Is the only question I had on my mind?
“I convinced Ruchika and Ruchika convinced Aahna. We just need to find something eventful to do this weekend” Aaryan said from behind. Aaryan and Ruchika were close friends for almost two years and it seems like Ruchika and Aahna are close friends too.
“So, I was thinking of taking a tour of that haunted mall at night” Karthik said.
“Which mall?” I asked.
“The one near your house” He replied. The mall they are talking was not at all haunted, it was just that the construction of the mall came to an abrupt end. I don’t know the reason for its closure, but the mall is not at all haunted as I have visited the mall quite a few times to pass the time.
“So, are you in?” Aaryan asked me.
“Well you could come and stay at my home, as my parents are going in some relatives wedding and the house would be all free this weekend” I added.
“This is perfect, I knew I could trust you Shyan. So, it is fixed this weekend we will stay in Shyan’s house and will explore the haunted mall at night.” Anubhav said.
I did not object with that plan as I did not have any plans for the weekend. I just smelled something fishy about them inviting Aahna.
“Hey whose idea was it to invite Aahna?” I asked.
“Well it is no use in hiding from Shyan” Aaryan said.
“Well you see Karthik has this huge crush on Aahna and he wants to spend time with her and get to know her better” Anubhav said.
Knew there was something fishy going on here. So basically, I am setting up a date of some sorts for Karthik and Aahna, with others being side characters. It’s just not fair, but I guess I have to be a team player for Karthik and Aahna relationship to bloom.
After the school hours, I decided to go to the roof to see Reyansh sir. As usual he is there with a lit cigarette in his hand. I told him about the topic of my novel and he had only one thing to say.
“How high were you when you thought of this topic?” Reyansh sir asked.
“Pretty high I guess” I thought.
“Well do you like it?” I counter questioned.
“The topic of the novel does not matter much, but the content you insert is the main thing” Reyansh sir said.
I took his advice and went home. I started my novel in the evening with a notebook in my hand and a pen in the other. I started to write and imagine the back story of my character. I drew a layout of my story, starting with the beginning, then the middle part and finally the ending. So, that I have a clear structure of my story in my head.
[CHAPTER-7] — A MESS
Well the story looked promising and good in my mind. So, I started to write down the story on my notebook and then type it on the laptop. I finished my first five pages in a week. Not bad I guess, but now I have to take a break from writing because the stay over weekend had arrived upon me and my parents were out of station. I had asked permission for the stay over to which my parents did not object at all. The plan is to assemble at my place and then decide what to do. Today is Saturday and there is no one at the house.
I just arranged and cleaned the place a little bit. I stopped cleaning when I felt everything looked correct and went to my bed to get a nap. While lying down, I remembered the one last thing which I had to hide. I removed the picture of Melanie stuck to my study table and hid it in my drawer. I did not want them to know about my crush on Melanie.
It is 2PM and I am lying down on my bed, with sleep knocking in my eyes when suddenly I hear the doorbell ring. I went to the front of the house to open the door. I peeped from the peephole to see who it is and to my surprise it is Aahna. I did not expect this at all as we were supposed to gather at my house at 6PM…..
I opened the door to welcome her inside.
“Hey there, welcome to my paradise” I said in a cheerful mood.
“Hi Shyan, long time no see. God you have grown in height, anyway thank you for having me” Aahna complimented me in a sweet voice.
She sat on the sofa and put down her duffel bag which contained her clothes. She is looking adorable in her skin tight jeans and pink top.
“Do you need anything to drink, coffee, tea, cold drink?” I asked her politely.
“No need. It’s been very long since we have met Shyan. I heard you had dengue?”
“Yes I did a very long time ago. The dengue was not that bad” I replied as she strolled around to the room to see the photo frames hanged in the living room.
“Well I still remember your debate back in the day” She laughed.
“I don’t, it was dreadful. I pissed a lot of teachers present there.” I said.
“Yeah well that you did” She said.
We were having a moment here, but unfortunately I have to quickly go to the Atm and withdraw some money for some work.
“Hey if you don’t mind, I just need to go to an Atm for some work. Can you just stay here? I will be back in five minutes” I asked.
“Yeah sure” She replied.
I hurried to the Atm, took out some cash and returned to my home. I opened the door and expected Aahna to be sitting in the hall, but she was not in the hall. I went to the other rooms to check and found her in my room, with a notebook in her hand, the same notebook in which I have written the first few pages of my novel.
“Hey, I was just looking around and found this notebook lying on your bed” She said while pointing towards the notebook in her hand. First of all what is she doing in my bed, this is a serious breach of my privacy. Just think if she had found out the adult magazine stashed under my bed. Oh wait, all the dirty stuff I have is stored in digital memory. So her entering my room is not that of a danger, but still how dare she enter my room. Well I did not care if she saw the story of my novel. I am pretty sure that she will laugh at it.
“What is this written in here” She said while opening the last page of the notebook.
“Oh, it is nothing, it is some random stuff I have been working on” I said without even looking at the page.
“Me-lani-e” She said in a stuttering tone. I am shocked, what the hell is written on that page. If I heard her correctly, she just said ‘Melanie’. I peeked over her to see what is written in the page. It was the page where I had written Melanie’s name thousand times. It was sort of my guilty pleasure.
“Who is Melanie?” Aahna asked the question which I did not wish to answer.
Now what am I going to say was the thoughts evoking in my mind. I thought of telling her that she is my cousin, but then I thought about it. I writing the name of my cousin thousand times on a notebook does have an Alabama type feeling, plus Melanie did not even looked 1% Indian. I could just tell her the truth, but I feared her reaction on knowing.
“She is an actress, I had a crush on her for some time” I said with my face blushing a bit. I have the skipped the part of meeting her by becoming famous.
“Aha, you have a crush on an actress. That is cute.” She said and put the notebook back on the bed. I took a sigh of relief after seeing her putting the book back on the bed.
She then exited my room and went towards the hall. She then took a seat on the sofa and I just followed her actions, feels weird to let the other person dominate your actions in your own house.
“Well you came a lot early than everybody.” I initiated the conversation.
“Oh yeah, my father was going out for work, so he dropped me off here. Well actually, I would have been all alone in my home after my father left the house and being alone would have been boring anyway.” She replied.
So, she wanted to spend her time with me rather than staying at home. I must say, I am touched.
“Well I agree. So what do you want to do now?” I asked her.
“Well we could see a movie, what do you say” she said with enthusiasm
“It is a wonderful idea, let me get my laptop”
The get together was organized for Karthik to form a bond with Aahna, but looks like I have replaced Karthik from the plan and I like that idea.
I booted up my laptop and opened my movie folder. I gave the laptop to Aahna to decide on a movie.
“You have got a big collection of movies” She said.
“Thanks” I said with pride in my eyes
“Hey you have got 50 shades of grey” She said gave a flirty smile.
“Yeah” I swayed my eyes from the screen. Her finding ‘50 shades of grey’ is awkward.
She searched for more movies, while I am sweating from anxiety. I just hoped that she would not find my porn collection. I had hidden it pretty well and deep in the folders.
“Hey what is this movie? This one named Koe-no-Katachi” She pointed her finger at the movie.
“Well it is a Japanese animated movie about bullying. Its English name is ‘Silent Voice’ and It is an amazing movie”. I showed off my knowledge.
“Sounds interesting, let’s watch it” Aahna said in a cheerful voice. Well, those of you who don’t know about Koe-no-Katachi. It is a very emotional movie and I do recommend you to watch it.
So, I switched on the TV, connected my laptop with the TV through HDMI port and played the movie. Now as I was about to sit on the sofa, I saw a grave situation in front of me. You see, the sofa is a three-person seater, with Aahna sitting on the left. I am in the dilemma of sitting beside her or leaving the middle seat and sit on the right hand side. I am not good with girls and these tiny decisions do bother me. Will she see me as a pervert, if I sit next to her? Will she feel uncomfortable when I sit next to her? These kinds of thoughts started to pop into my head.
“Hey sit down will you, the movie has started” Aahna said.
I am like, screw everything. It is my home and I am its master, well technically it’s my parents’ home, but I am in charge when they are not here. So, I slowly sat beside Aahna to watch the movie.
The movie was two hours long and I just sat through the movie thinking about holding her hand, but decided against it in the end. The movie is excruciating and an emotional rollercoaster. As the movie ended, I saw tears in the eyes of Aahna. I offered her some tissue to wipe her tears.
“The movie was so good” She said still wiping her tears.
“You should watch more anime, I guess” I said.
“Definitely! Thanks for this beautiful moment” She said.
“You know I would not let anyone bully you” I said a very cheesy line.
“Well nobody bullies me anyway” She said and laughed.
Her laugh is so charming, there was a real moment happening between me and Aahna. I just did not want anyone to disturb it, but when have I got what I wanted. The doorbell rang and Aaryan, Anubhav and Karthik came into my house. They came in together.
“Hey Shyan what’s up” Aaryan said as he entered my house. A lot was up, before these three morons disturbed me and Aahna.
The three went straight to the living room and were dumb struck on seeing Aahna. They did not expect to see Aahna there because they have come an hour earlier than the scheduled time. They wanted to be here early and discuss some important strategies for the mission ‘Karthik and Aahna’, but Aahna coming even earlier meant that they just have to abort the strategy meeting..
“Hey Aahna, you came early?” Anubhav stated the obvious fact.
“Yeah, I was getting bored at home. So, I decided to come here early. I and Shyan just finished watching a movie together” Aahna said as the three of them now started to stare at me. Karthik just took me to a side to have a chat, while the other two kept Aahna accompanied.
“Bro, you should have informed us that Aahna has been here with you for hours.” He said in a flustered voice.
“I did not know that she would come this early and how the hell would I have informed you guys?” I said.
“With the phone, with the fucking phone Shyan! Even a WhatsApp message saying that ‘Hey guys Aahna is in my home right now’ would have sufficed” Karthik looked angry. Well he did have a point. I could have informed him through the phone, but I guess I wanted to spend some time alone with Aahna myself.
“Did not think about that” I tried to act foolishly.
“Well no problem, here take these chocolates and put them in the fridge” Karthik said while unzipping his bag. He took out a heart case made of glass filled with some fancy chocolates from his bag.
“What the hell are the chocolates for? Are you really going propose Aahna this weekend?” I asked.
“No, but if I get an opportunity then I do not want be unprepared” he replied.
“With your logic, you should carry a condom with you too. You do not know when an opportunity may arise” I said sarcastically, but he just took out his wallet from his pockets and took out a packet of condom from the wallet. He flashed the condom packet in front of me and laughed. Damn, he is well prepared.
I just took the chocolates and was about to put the chocolates in the fridge, when suddenly someone sneaked behind me.
“Hey, who are those chocolates for?” Aahna busted me in the act.
Now what the heck am I supposed to say? Hey, these chocolates are for you because Karthik wants to woe you through Cocoa and sugar or I could say that Karthik wants to propose you by giving you diabetes. Seriously, why am I the one caught in the middle of this?
“It is for Ruchika. Well Aaryan likes Ruchika, but he does not have the guts to propose her. So, we have arranged this get together and chocolates for this reason. Just don’t tell Ruchika and Aaryan about this, as we have arranged this without them knowing, right Shyan?” Karthik laid his traps of lies to save his own skin. He just put Aaryan on the skewer, without Aaryan even knowing about it.
“Well I thought Ruchika and Aaryan were more like brother and sister?” Aahna said.
“You thought wrong, just don’t tell them about this plan” Karthik desperate to keep it a secret.
“Well good luck on your plan. Tell me if you need anything from me” Aahna said and leave.
I just stood there in silence and stared at Karthik with confused eyes. I did not want any part in Karthik’s lies.
“Are you crazy or something? Couldn’t you just come up with a better lie?” I asked.
“Well do you have any better ideas?” Karthik said.
“Just calm down and act normal. No one will know, if you just act normally” Karthik cut my sentence short.
“Well, if things go sour, I should not be held responsible”
“Of course Shyan” He said and left.
I just opened the fridge and placed the chocolates in the freezer. Then, I joined Aahna and others like nothing had happened.
“So, when is Ruchika coming” Aaryan asked. The poor lad does not even know what the hell has happened.
“You are very excited to see Ruchika aren’t you?”Aahna said.
“Not really, it is just that everyone is here except Ruchika” Aaryan replied. Only I and Karthik knew why Aahna had asked him that question. I just looked at Karthik as to say ‘What have you done’. To which he quietly gestured me to remain silent. There was an awkward silence for 2 minutes, with nobody saying anything.
“Hey who wants to play some car-” My sentence is cut short by the sudden ring of the doorbell.
“It must be Ruchika, Aaryan can you open the door” Aahna instructed Aaryan. Now she is taking our lie to next level. She is desperately trying to bring Ruchika and Aaryan close, but she needed to calm down.
Aaryan obliged and opened the door and welcomed Ruchika into my house. Well I have not described Ruchika to you guys and there is a reason for it. It is because I have not seen her in real life ever. I have just seen her in a photo uploaded by Aaryan on Instagram and it is my first time seeing her in real life.
She entered my house and walked right past me to hug Aahna. What is with girls hugging every time they see each other? Anyways, on a closer look, Ruchika looked like a normal Indian teen with black hairs and black eyes. She has a good body built with an attractive face. Aaryan describes her to be more of a sister figure, but I would not mind him dating Ruchika.
“Well Ruchika, this is Shyan and Anubhav” Aaryan said while pointing towards me and Anubhav. It looks like even Anubhav is meeting her for the first time.
“Nice to see you Ruchika” I said while shaking her hand.
“You too, you are the master of this house after all” She said and laughed. I too joined in the laughter out of courtesy.
“So, everyone is here I guess” Anubhav said.
“No shit Sherlock” Aaryan said.
“What is the plan then?” Ruchika asked.
“Well we wanted to check out the haunted mall around the street at night, rumors are that a boy went to the mall and never returned.” Aaryan said in a spooky voice.
“Isn’t it dangerous then to visit the mall” Aahna said.
“Maybe, but what is life without risk. I like this plan.” Ruchika said
Meanwhile I just stood there and wondered how a silly rumor can make a place haunted. Maybe I should include this concept in my novel.
“The mall thing is okay, but what are we gonna do till midnight.?” Anubhav asked.
“Well we could play cards” Ruchika said.
“Yeah, let me get the cards” I said and left.
I quickly went to my room and brought a pack of cards from the closet in my room. As I came back to the living room, I saw the others gathered around a photo hung on the wall. I did not know which photo they were looking so, I went forward to get a look. It is a photo of me as a young kid running naked in the house. I have not seen that photo hung on the wall before today. I think my mom deliberately put that up when I mentioned a stay over. I am not particularly embarrassed with that photo, as everyone runs naked when they were small.
“Hey look Shyan what we found” Anubhav said to tease me.
“A young Shyan running naked” Karthik joined in.
“Haha you found the hidden treasure” I said sarcastically.
“I think Shyan looks very cute here” Aahna said as she admired the photo. I strongly disagreed with her on this point. I mean how can you find a small kid running naked while holding his small penis cute? It is beyond my comprehension, but since the little kid this time is me. I had to agree to her point.
“Thanks Aahna, so what do you want to play rummy, poker, bluff?” I said.
“Bluff, bluff I want to play bluff” Aahna said like a child.
Bluff, also called call break is lie based card game where the player who loses its entire deck wins.
We played bluff for one hour, with Aahna forcing Ruchika to sit beside Aaryan. It was getting obvious that Aahna is trying to get Aaryan and Ruchika close. I just ignored her efforts as I intently played bluff. I had my poker face on for the bluff. I know it is a very bad pun. We played 4 games of bluff, with me winning one time and Aahna winning 3 times. It is not talent that is helping Aahna win, but more like Karthik helped Aahna due to his love. It was basically Aahna and Karthik in a tag team, while others struggled individually.
“It is getting booorrrriiiinnng” Aahna confessed. Of course it is going to be boring if you cheat.
“What do you want to do? There is still 4 hours to waste before heading out. Does anyone have a suggestion?” Anubhav asked.
“Wait here for 5 minutes. I am going to bring something which will cheer you up.” I said and left my house.
I went to the storage room and found the case which I had hidden in the room. I opened the case with the key I had in my wallet and brought out the bottle of whisky which was gifted to me by the old man. It was a parting gift which I did not know what to do, but with my parents out of station it is the perfect day to use the bottle.
I took the bottle and closed the case. I left the shed and went straight towards the living room with the bottle in one of my hands.
“Here this should spice up the evening” I said and kept the bottle on the coffee table.
“Woah, where did you get this bottle Shyan” Aaryan said.
“It was a gift from my friend” I said.
“Well, this is interesting” Aahna said.
“If you do not want to drink, then it’s okay. I will put back the bottle” I said and took the bottle in my hand again.
“No, no. This would be perfect. I thought you weebs did not drink. I was wrong, just put the bottle back” Ruchika said.
“Wait what?” Aaryan said, he is probably hurt by the weeb part. The weeb part is offensive to me as well, but I ignored her.
“Just tell me who is drinking alcohol for the first time” Ruchika asked. Aaryan and Aahna raised their hands.
“You have never had alcohol before Aahna?” Karthik asked.
“No, I just never got the opportunity” Aahna replied.
“Well you should always try something new in your life” I said. Geez I sounded like the old man.
I brought six glasses, with a bottle of cold water along with some chips. I poured the whisky in the glasses and topped it with water. I distributed the glasses, first to Aahna and then to everybody else. We did the customary cheers and started sit on the sofa. Now I and Karthik wanted to sit beside Aahna, with only one side available. So, I laid a trap.
“Hey Karthik there is a speaker kept in my room. Can you bring it so we can play some music?” I put Karthik on a job to keep him distracted, while I occupied the seat beside Aahna.
He came back with the speaker, just to see me sitting beside Aahna. Well my house my rules. He just took the seat beside Anubhav.
Me and Ruchika finished our first drink in 2 minutes, with other were still trying to finish theirs.
“Here Shyan make me another drink” Ruchika said.
“Make it yourself. I am no bartender of yours.” I said with a angry tone. I guess the nice guy inside me hibernates when I drink.
“Okay, chill man” Ruchika said and started to make her own drink.
“The drink is so bitter” Aahna said after finishing her drink.
“What did you expect” I said while pouring another drink for me. I then poured in another drink for Aahna, while making my own drink. Ruchika did not like my nice behavior towards Aahna and rude toward her.
“Hey not fair, you made Aahna’s drink and not mine. I am very sad” She said and tried to make a sad face, but failed miserably.
“She is new to this. That is why I will make her drink this one time only because when I was new somebody else made my drink. By the way the sad face does not faze me.” I defended myself.
“If that’s the case then Ruchika you should make Aaryan’s drink” Aahna said and continued her efforts to get Aaryan and Ruchika close.
Now the mood is beginning to set, with the alcohol hitting me when I am drinking my 3rd drink. I am beginning to feel my head spinning a little and I started to get talkative.
“You have got beautiful blue eyes” I started to flirt with Aahna in my little drunk state.
“Aww Shyan thank you, you are so sweet” Aahna said. Maybe she is a little drunk too.
“Still, your eyes are pale in comparison to Melanie. She has got that something extra” I said. I spoke way out of my league here without even realizing it.
“Why is that, what is missing in my eyes that this star of yours have” Aahna said in a mischievous voice.
“Well let me tell you, she has got something special, but you are no less” I said and laughed.
She joined in the laugh, but Karthik did not particularly like my interaction with Aahna. There is a sense of jealousy in him, but I ignored him and put my attention towards Aahna.
“The purple nail polish suits your top” I tried to compliment her.
“Well I thought purple was the color to go with today. See this one is a gradient color” She said while showing her hands.
I took her hand into my hand to get a closer look. Her hands were soft and warm. God her touch felt heavenly, or it may be just my hormones in this age. Whatever the reason I did not want to leave her hand.
“It is a beautiful color, you have got very soft hands I must say” I said.
“Thank you, you are adorable” She said. She is now tipsy.
“Ahem, I guess you could share what you are talking about” Ruchika said, she is obviously irritated by the whispering between me and Aahna.
“It is a secret between me, Shyan and Melanie” Aahna said and laughed. Now why did she have to mention Melanie? Fortunately due to her low voice nobody heard her.
I just silently sipped my drink and opened my phone. Took a picture of the half-filled whisky bottle and send it to the old man with the message ‘Thanks for the bottle again’. I had maintained some contact with the old man and would send an occasional message. After 2 minutes the old man replied to the message.
‘You are having a party and you did not even invite me’ He texted me.
‘Recover first, how is the leg?’ I asked him on text.
‘Good, I can move around now’ he texted me back.
‘Enjoying again on the roof I guess’ I texted him back
“Hey who are you texting?” Aaryan asked me.
“The one who provided the bottle for the evening” I said.
“And who would that be?”Aahna asked me.
“He is an old man whom I met at the hospital, he has last stage cancer, but he lives his life to the fullest”
“An old man with last stage cancer gave you this bottle, Shyan I am starting to be scared of you.” Ruchika said and laughed.
As she was laughing, my phone suddenly started to ring. It is my mother, probably calling to check on me. Now the dilemma is whether I should answer her call in my drunk state or ignore it. I just took a deep breath and answered the call.
“What’s up Mom? How is the wedding” I said in a normal and unsuspicious tone.
“The wedding is fine, just called to check whether you are fine” My mother said.
“Yes mom everything is good.” I said with little flutters in my voice.
“Pass the bottle of whisky please” Karthik said on top of his voice and my mother heard it.
“What bottle?” My mother asked me. I cursed Karthik in my mind and signaled him to zip it for 5 minutes.
“Karthik was asking for the bottle of whi-, COKE. We are drinking coke and he was asking us to pass the bottle of coke” I made up the excuse.
“Well whatever, have fun and be careful.” My mother said.
“Ok, love you, cheers” I said and disconnected the call. I think the ‘cheers’ statement came out wrong.
“Love you too, bye” she said without suspecting anything and disconnected the call. I just took a big sigh of relief.
“What the hell man, do you want me to get caught” I lashed on Karthik.
“Sorry my bad” Karthik apologized.
“Well all is well that ends well” Aahna said to calm me.
I just finished my 6th drink and am very drunk at the moment. I am now in the stage where I did not think of the consequences of the words I spoke.
“Why don’t you have a boyfriend yet? You are so beautiful and have a great personality. You should have got many proposals” I asked Aahna.
All others present in the room just stopped whatever they were doing and looked Aahna for her answer.
“I don’t know. I just did not feel any sort of connection with the ones who proposed me. Maybe I would say yes to you if you proposed me” Aahna said and teased me a little bit.
“What about the other boys present in the room, would you accept their proposal” Ruchika asked for general knowledge. Anubhav, Karthik and Aaryan now had their undivided attention towards Aahna. They were eager for the answer Aahna is about to give. Heck, even I am eager for the answer she is about to give.
“Well, no offence, but I would reject the others. Cheers to that” Aahna said and raised her glass.
I raised my glass, but other three were not particularly happy about it, especially Karthik. They raised the glass tentatively at the end.
“Hey, want to hear a secret?” I whispered to Aahna.
“What is it?” Aahna asked.
“I would have proposed you right now, but my heart belongs to someone else.” I whispered in her ears.
“That hurt me” Aahna said in a childish tone.
“Guys, we were going to the mall? It is close to midnight. So, let’s get going” Aaryan said and stood up.
“Let’s go, we have finished the bottle of whisky anyway” I said and got up. I offered my hand to Aahna to help her get up. I guess whisky also brings out the chivalry in you.
[CHAPTER-8] — HAUNTED MALL THAT WAS NOT HAUNTED.
We left my house at midnight. The mall is about 5 minutes away from my home. So, all of us in midnight started to walk in the dark alley which led to the mall. The alley had just the one light lamp in the middle, with the rest of the road covered in darkness. It would have been very spooky for me if I was not drunk. We crossed the alley and reached our destination. We were now standing in front of the so-called haunted mall. The mall looked older than I remember. I used to roam inside the mall daily about 2 years ago, but I stopped because of boredom. We now stood in front of the old and rusted main gate, which in my memory was always locked. Aaryan proceeded to open the gate, but it is locked from inside. He jolted the gate in a childish way to open the gate, but to no avail.
“It is locked, we will have to jump over the gate” Aaryan declared after inspecting the gate.
“No, not happening. It is covered with spikes at the top. If someone were to fall or slip accidently at the top, the result would be devastating.” Aahna said. At least she is still in her senses.
“Then tell me what to do?” Aaryan said.
“We could look for a back entrance.” Ruchika added. A smart move on her part, but the back door is also locked 24/7. I knew an entrance, but wanted to see them struggle a little bit.
“Good idea” Aaryan said and we walked to towards the back entrance.
We reached the back entrance which is again locked. The look of them struggling to find a entrance is very soothing.
“Now what?” Anubhav asked.
“I don’t know” Aaryan said in a defeated tone. Looks like I have to be the savior today.
“There should be a parking lot, which should have a staircase which leads to the ground floor entrance. We could enter it from their” Karthik said. He figured out the entrance which I knew.
“That theory is feasible. Nice Karthik” Aahna complimented Karthik. Karthik blushed a little on hearing her compliment him or it can be just my speculation.
We went towards the underground parking and opened the flash on our phones to see clearly.
“Where is the staircase?” Aahna asked.
“It should be nearby” Ruchika replied.
“Just take a right from wall which will come in the front, the emergency staircase is located their” I guided them.
They followed my instructions and found the staircase. I have used it many times to enter the mall in the past.
“How did you know about the staircase, you have already been here haven’t you?” Aahna said.
“Yes” I replied.
“So, all that time we were looking for an entrance, you knew the way in the mall?” Ruchika asked.
“Well it was very entertaining to see you try” I said with a smile.
“You cheeky bastard.” Aahna said and punched my arm.
We climbed the staircase and were now in the ground floor of the mall. It is dark and debris of construction were scattered everywhere. The mall was never inaugurated officially and this is it. There is nothing else to see.
“Wow, it is so big” Aahna said. She then screamed her name loudly. Why does everyone scream their name when they are alone in a big space? At least I screamed Melanie when I come to these places like these.
“Where is the spooky element here?” Ruchika asked a valid question.
“Wait for a second, we have to first invite the devil” Anubhav said and took out some black candles from the bag he carried.
“Are you going to perform some ritual?” Ruchika asked.
“Indeed” He replied.
“What would happen if we summon a real demon?” Aahna asked.
“Running would be a good option.” I said jokingly.
“Let me summon it first” Anubhav said and started his preparation.
He took the candles and lighted them and placed them in a circle he drew with a chalk. I had also performed the same ritual in my house. It did not work that time.
“The symbol on the side is missing” I advised him.
“Oh sorry” Anubhav apologize and drew the missing symbol. “How did you know about it” he then asked me.
“I had performed the same ritual at my house, but without any success” I said. Would have been awesome if I could have struck a deal with the devil that day, too bad he or she did not show up.
“What kind of weirdoes are you.” Ruchika said. I did not pay any attention to her remark.
Anubhav completed the preparations and started to summon a demon. The situation looked like a movie scene, where some teens summon a demon for fun, which in turn becomes a nightmare for them. He completed the ritual and waited for 5 minutes in silence to see the result. It looked like the result is no different from mine.
“Where is your little demon?” Ruchika taunted Anubhav. If the demon does show up now, she will die first for sure for her remark.
“Looks like nothing happened” Karthik said.
“No worries guys, haunted or not, this place is definitely creepy” Aahna said to cheer them up.
While Anubhav was still upset about his failed summoning, I started hearing some noises coming from the left corner of the mall. Suddenly I heard a loud thumping sound originating from the same area.
“What was that noise” Ruchika jumped back after hearing the voice. She was definitely spooked because of the sound.
“It came from that side” Karthik said while pointing towards the origination of the voice.
“Did we succeed in summoning a demon” Anubhav said with a cheerful tone. While everyone is spooked at the proposition, I and Anubhav really wanted to see a demon. He wants his ritual to succeed and I wanted to strike a deal with the demon, a win-win situation for both of us.
I now started to hear some growling sounds coming from the left side of the mall. I knew what it is right away.
“What are these growling sounds?” Aaryan asked.
“I don’t know. Sounds like a dog” Aahna said.
“When the demons are pissed, they send their loyal dogs to take the life of the one’s, who pissed them off. They are called Hellhounds. That is what I read.” I said.
“Now you are scaring me” Ruchika said with a scared look in her face.
“Be scared, you were the one who bad-mouthed the demon” Anubhav said.
The growling grew stronger and stronger as the time passed. Now everyone is backing up and were ready to flee on a moment’s notice, only I am not moving backwards. Well looks like I should tell them the truth, before someone gets a heart attack.
“Here girl come here” I said and kneeled down with my hands up.
“What the hell are you doing Shyan? Are you inviting her for a buffet or something” Ruchika said. She is now trembling with fear and her face had gone completely white.
“Shyan is sacrificing himself, so that we can escape” Karthik came up with the most illogical analysis of the situation. I will not sacrifice myself for these morons, the only ones I will sacrifice my life for are my parents or Melanie.
“Just shut up for 2 minutes.” I howled.
I still had my hands up and waited for her to come to me. A shadow slowly started to move towards me. The people behind me were losing their shit and were scared beyond their wits. Ruchika has already reached the exit and looked at us from quite a distance. Aahna just flashed the flashlight from her phone towards the shadow to get a clear look at it. It was the neighborhood dog, wagging her tail and coming towards me.
“Here is your hellhound” I said and patted the dogs head.
“Very funny” Ruchika said in a sarcastic tone. Her fear now had turned into frustration as she came near us.
“That was a bummer, I really wanted to see a hellhound” Anubhav said as he is approaching the dog to pat him. The dog started to growl at him.
“Careful, it does not like strangers. I have known this dog for 5 years.” I said.
“Well let’s leave, I have had enough for the day” Karthik said.
“I agree” Ruchika said in agreement.
Well I did not object to the proposition as I did not want to come here in the first place.
“Hey, where has Aaryan ran off too” Anubhav said. I looked around and did not see him anywhere .Now where the hell has that dimwit ran off too.
“Aaryan” Karthik started shouting at top of his voice.
“Where are you motherfucker” I also started to scream.
“Why the hell are you screaming?” Aaryan said from above. He id standing one floor above us.
“Where were you?” Anubhav asked.
“Had gone to the toilet” Aaryan said.
“Could have gone to the one on this floor” I asked.
“There were only girl’s washroom in the ground floor, so went to the first floor” He replied.
“You could have gone into that one, it is not like anyone is going to object” I said.
“These small things are what distinguish us from other people” He said and came down.
“Definitely, it distinguishes you from the smart people. Now let’s get out of here” I said and started to walk.
“Wait for one second” Aahna said and went towards the middle of the mall. She screamed her name again. I do not understand these types of meaningless things people do in these kinds of situations. Then I remembered my screaming on the roof and dismissed my own objection out of my brain.
We then exited the mall from the same route we had entered from. I opened my phone to check the time, it is 2:30 right now. We now once again treaded on the dark alley to return to my home. As we were walking towards my home, a car started to approach us from behind. I turned my neck to see the car and saw a police patrol car approaching us. Well it is very odd for teenagers like us to roam on the road at this time of the day, moreover if he finds us drunk and calls my parents, I am doomed.
“It is a police car. Just behave normally. We are just coming back from my friend’s house, which is near the mall” I gave them specific instructions. Everyone nodded in unison.
We continued walking forward and I hoped that the patrol car will zip pass us. I did not pay any attention to the car while it is coming towards us, but the other morons were constantly looking back towards the car. I now could see my home, it is just 2 minutes away from me. We were so close in getting to the safe zone, but alas my luck has always betrayed me at crucial times. The patrol car stopped beside us and the police officer who is driving it, slid down the window.
“Why are you roaming here such a late night” The officer said in jumbled words and in stuttered voice. His words were not at all clear.
“What did you say?” I asked.
“I said, what are doing here so late in the night” He said while examining us. As he is speaking, I took a peek in the vehicle and could see an almost empty bottle of Old Monk. He too like us is drunk.
“We were just visiting a friend and are returning to our home” I said.
“Where do you live?” He asked.
“Just down the road” I said.
“Well, hurry along. There are many cases of drinking and driving in this area. Be careful.” He said. The irony in his statement is damn high. I could not help, but leak a small laughter on my face when he said that statement.
“Ok sir, we will be careful. Good night sir” I said finally.
“Good night” He said and started his car.
“No drinking and driving sir” I said to him as he is leaving. Fortunately, he did not hear me.
“Shyan what did you say to him” Aaryan asked.
“Nothing much and where the hell were you when I was dealing with him alone? You people are not even good for supporting role” I said and started walking again.
We reached my home and I wanted to sleep very badly, but being the host I have to see where others would sleep first. Ruchika and Aahna slept in my parents’ room, while others slept in my room. Ghosh, I hope that they do not do something strange in my room or bathroom. I finally made myself comfortable on the sofa in the hall and stared at the fan above me for quite a bit. I started to think about today’s event and imagined Melanie in all of those. I imagined her standing right beside me. I imagined her sitting beside me, while we were watching the movie. I imagined her smiling when I was cracking a joke in front of her. I tried to imagine her drunk, but some things are a little out of my imagination. In short whenever I want to sleep, I imagine Melanie. She has become some sort of a sleeping pill for me.
“Goodnight Melanie” I said it in my mind and dozed off. I just wished that she would react with “Goodnight Shyan”.
I started to dream in my sleep and this time I am in Stone Age era, with dragons flying over me. It is like I am in a MMO game. Suddenly, the dragon knocked me on the ground with his flames. I am stunned for a minute. I shook my head and started to collect my thoughts. As I was standing up, I saw Melanie coming towards me. She came near me and started to say something. I just took her hand and started to run.
“It is not safe here” I said to her. Of course, it is not safe. There is a fucking dragon flying above me.
“Wake up Shyan” She murmured.
“Wake up SHYAN” She now screamed.
I opened my eyes to see Aahna standing in front of me in her nightwear, with me holding her hand. I just let go of her hand.
“Sorry for that” I said as I looked around to see what time it is. The sun is out, so I imagined it is 6 or 7 in the morning.
“No problem, I just wanted to ask if you had something to eat?” she asked.
“Nothing to eat directly, you can have cornflakes. Just have to boil the milk” I said.
“Could you boil the milk” she said in a sweet tone.
“Don’t tell me you do not even know how to boil milk?” I asked.
“I don’t know how to use gas stove, don’t want me to blow your home” She said.
“You do not even know how to start a gas stove”
“Well, you said yesterday. You learn new things everyday”
I hate me for saying that. Now I have to get up and boil some milk for her. I just went to the kitchen and took out the milk in the fridge and put it into a steel container. She followed me into the kitchen to observe me. I told her how to switch on a gas stove without blowing the house.
I took out the cornflakes and put some into the bowl and poured the boiled milk. I handed over the bowl with cornflakes to her.
“Thank you” She said. I do not need a thank you, I need some sleep.
“No problem. Sorry again for holding your hand earlier. It was a weird dream.” I said, still drowsy from my sleep.
“Don’t sweat about it, Thanks again” She said and kissed me on the cheek and left.
Now, this is a shocker. I did not expect this. I did not mind it certainly. Well, even Melanie kissed Dustin. So, I did not technically cheat on her and it was just a kiss on the cheek. I just pondered over these thoughts while standing in the kitchen. The kiss on the cheeks did feel good is my conclusion before going to sleep again.
[CHAPTER-9] — BACK AT IT AGAIN
After the stay over, my top priority is to work on my novel. Everything else is secondary now. I started to spend more and more time in my room after coming from school with my laptop. I worked on my novel for 1.5 months and I have almost reached the half point of my story. I could have written a lot more of the story, but my midterm results had come in, with me getting 73% marks. Not too bad for someone who did not study at all, but was a little disappointing for my parents. I was just possessed with my novel and Melanie in these past few months that I could not focus on my exams at all. Anyways, I told them I would try harder next time and that was enough for them to not pressurize me on studying.
So today I am finishing up the 9th chapter of my novel. It is a hectic chapter to write and it is almost midnight, with just me, my laptop, my novel and the background music. As soon as the clock on the wall struck 12:00, I started to hear some footsteps coming from outside my room. Maybe Dad has woken up for some water, were my initial thought. I ignored the voices and dived into writing my novel again. A few minutes later and someone’s shadow is casted on my door. I looked at the door to see who it is.
“Hey champ, Happy birthday” It is my father, with a cheerful voice.
“Who’s Birthday?” I asked.
“Yours, what is wrong with you” He looked baffled.
I just opened the calendar on my phone and checked the date. It is 9th November, indeed my birthday. I did not even realize that November has start. I thought the month of October is still going.
“Nothing’s wrong with me. Thanks for the wish Dad” I said.
“There is a surprise gift for you, waiting in the hall. Let’s go.” He said with a suspenseful voice.
I just followed him to the hall. ‘A surprise gift, what could it be?’ were the thoughts running in my head. Hell, if it is my lucky day, my parents may gift me a coupon, which will let me meet Melanie when redeemed. Does such a coupon even exist, I don’t think so.
I just entered the hall and saw my mother holding a puppy in her hand.
“Happy birthday dear, look what we have got you” she said and released the puppy from her hands. It is a male Labrador, which was like 3 or 4 month old. It had golden fur and a very small body. It started to run wild around the home as soon as my mother released her from her clutches. He now came near me and started to sniff my leg. This is a heck of a surprise for sure, a puppy. Who would have thought? He just stood beside me wagging his tail, looking into my eyes. He is adorable to say the least.
“So, what will you name him?” My mother asked me after the golden boy calmed down.
“Give me some time will you. It is not like I was thinking about dog names before you gifted me this puppy” I said. My father started to laugh at my statement.
“Happy birthday once again son. I am going to sleep as I have an important meeting, but we will party this weekend” He said and hugged me. He then went to his room to sleep.
“Take this little one with you in your room” My mother said and went left me alone in the living room.
“Looks like it is you and me for the night” I said to the dog. He just stared at me and then started to run around the house.
I just went to my room and whistled. He came running towards my room and immediately started to sniff my stuff while I closed the room. I grabbed hold of him and put him on the bed. I then took my laptop and started to write again. He just came up, lay next to me and started licking my hand.
“So, you want to hear the story of my novel. I am glad you asked.” I said to my dog while he looked cluelessly towards me. I started to narrate the story of my novel to my dog. It is a great way to practice to pitch my stories to others.
“So, in the mid-way the main character realiz-” I was narrating the story when I saw that my dog is fast asleep. I guess I looked like an alien speaking in an alien language. I just patted on his head and let him sleep.
I now had to find a name for him. Melanie had named her dog ‘Duke’, but I will choose a name by myself. I just typed ‘dog names male’ on google. It came up with interesting names, but none of it suits my dog. Well, at the end I decided to name him ‘Shiro’. It is the name of the dog in my childhood show Shin Chan, the effect the TV has on me. I saw Shiro sleeping with his face towards me. Let me tell you, seeing a dog sleeping beside you, knowing that he will never leave
your side is a very beautiful feeling.
I worked on my novel for some more hours before calling it a night. It is my birthday today, wish Melanie could be here to wish me. This will happen one day, I declared before sleeping.
“Shyan open your eyes, look at this” My mother screamed at top of her voice.
“What who died” I said in a sleepy sarcastic tone.
“Look at this, your dog has peed in your room. Wake up for god sake”.
“Ok, Ok. Why are you pissed off?” I said while still half asleep.
“Because your dog has pissed on the floor.”
“Well I have named him Shiro. How is the name?” I asked.
“Very nice name. Now clean what your do-, oh sorry, what your Shiro has done. I want the room clean in 10 minutes and as his master you have to train him to avoid these kinds of things.” My mother said and stormed out of my room.
I just looked at the area where Shiro has peed. There is a pool of yellow liquid covering a wide area of the corner of the room. I looked at Shiro who is sitting beside me on the bed acting all innocent by wagging his tail.
“My only question to you Shiro is? How the hell do you generate so much pee from your small body” I said with a smile and massaged him. How can I be mad at a cutie like him?
I just washed the floor and switched on the fan to let the wet floor dry. I climbed onto my bed and switched on my phone. I have fucking more than 200 messages from 40 people on WhatsApp and many more notifications from Instagram and Facebook. Something very interesting has occurred, were my first impressions. I opened my WhatsApp and started to see ‘Happy Birthday’ messages on my dm. I then remembered that it is my birthday today. How could I forget my birthday twice on the same day? Do I have Alzheimer’s? I am too young to have Alzheimer’s right? Whatever, now I have to message 40 people thanking them for the wishes. As I was scrolling through the messages, I saw a message from Aahna wishing me happy birthday.
Well I have to thank her first because I am a gentleman and ladies should always be the first priority. I then continued writing my novel after replying to everyday. It may sound odd, but I have no plan to party on my birthday.
I finished the latest chapter of my novel in 5 hours. I then checked my phone again and saw a message from the old man. He first wished me and then invited me to the hospital for a drinking session. Well I didn’t have any particular plans for the day anyway, so I just went to the hospital to see him.
I entered the hospital and went straight to the ward where he is staying. I went into the room and saw the old man lying down with his hands fiddling with his phone.
“Hey what’s up?” I said for him to notice that I have come into the room.
“Happy birthday boy!” He said when he noticed me standing beside the door.
He then tried to stand up with the help of his support walker, but he could not. He has grown very weak from the last time I had seen him, I helped him get up on his feet. We then walked down the corridor towards the lift. We entered the lift and I pressed the button to the roof. As we reached the roof, I made the old man sit and then went to fetch the whisky bottle from the back of the roof. I came back with the bottle, soda, with two glasses and some snacks.
I made two drinks and handed over his drink to him. He gulped his drink in one go.
“Hah, finally a drink after 20 days” He said in a victory tone.
“Why after 20 days?” I asked out of curiosity while sipping my drink.
“Well I have grown weak. Looks like cancer has taken his toll on me” He said while making another drink for himself.
“Wait, you have brought me here just to help you get to the roof” I asked.
“NO NO, I have called you to celebrate your birthday. How old you have become? He asked.
“17 Years old” I said.
“Just one year to go and then you will become an adult” He said while finishing his second drink. He is drinking very quickly. I have not even finished half of my first drink, looks like something is up.
“How is your health?” I asked him.
“Well I have final stage cancer, I cannot stand on my own. What’s more to say?” He announced. I decided to just drop the topic about his health.
“Have you got a girlfriend in these past couple of months?” He asked me, trying to change the topic.
“No, but I have got a crush on someone” I said.
“Why don’t you propose her then or take her out on a date?” He asked the tough question.
“It takes time. I want her to know me first” I replied.
“So, you are a pussy. Don’t worry I get it” He said to tease me.
“Well, I will propose her when I feel comfortable” I retaliated.
“Another way of saying, that you will never propose her.” He said and raised his glass “Cheers to your virginity”.
“Shut up for god sake” I said.
“Well, I will see god soon” He mumbled.
“What?” I asked, as I did not hear him clearly.
“Nothing” He said and finished his 3rd drink.
We finished the whole bottle that evening. With each glass, our topic of discussion was becoming more and more emotional. With him telling me how he misses his family and I telling him about my love Melanie.
After the drinking session, I helped him lay down in his room and got out of the room to go back to my home, but a nurse interrupted me from the counter. I am 100% sure that she knows that I was drinking with the old man in the hospital. I just turned in the opposite direction to the nurse and started walking.
“Hey stop for a second” She said and stopped me in my tracks. My legs were ready to run if she mentions anything close to alcohol.
“Yes” I said while trying to maintain my composure. I am somewhat stumbling because I had drunk a lot of whisky.
“Are you related to the patient in the room” She asked him. The nurse looked like she is in her mid-30s and she looked damn hot in the nurse outfit.
“I am a friend of his” I said while not trying to maintain eye contact.
“You know that he has final stage cancer and he has not even got a full week of life left in him. Could you contact his family” She asked me? I did not hear her properly because of my drunken state.
“Could you repeat that again” I said.
“He will die within this week. I know this will come as a shock. Could you please contact his family” She asked me again? I just could not hear her properly, I tried to clean my ear with my finger.
“I know this is a lot to take in” She said and took my hand in her hand. “Please sit down, you may have a mental breakdown due to this news” She said as She sat me down on a nearby chair. Her hands were very soft.
“He will die soon, could you tell his family to be with him these couple of days. It will give him lots of happiness.” She said, this time I heard her. My mind came back to its senses. That is why he drank so fast. It may have been his last drinks in this life. It came as a shock, but it is to be expected. After all he had final stage cancer.
“Don’t worry, I will try to contact them. Could you give me your number, so we can coordinate and give him a surprise party of some sort? By the way my name is Shyan. What is your name?” I said while taking out my mobile.
“Yeah sure that would be lovely, my name is Anamika. Here write my number 8867223354. Thanks for this. You are a very sweet and responsible boy Shyan” She said and started to walk down the corridor.
I went to the old man’s room again and saw him there fiddling with his phone once again. I went near him and sat on the side of the bed.
“What happened?” He concentrated on the mobile.
“When were you going to tell me that you are going to die within this week?” I asked.
“What the hell? The nurse told me I had more than a month of life left in me.” He replied. I then realized that the nurse would have lied to him.
“Well you have got a week or so left in your tank, at least live your remaining time with your family. I have told the nurse that I would arrange a party surprise party for you. The nurse stationed outside is hot” I said.
“Who Anamika, she is like a daughter to me and she is a lot older than you. By the way what is the point of this surprise party? You just ruined the surprise here only?” He said.
“I am not going to take a risk on you old man. What would happen if we surprise you and you get a heart attack? The news headline on the front page ‘A man with final stage cancer gets a heart attack because of a surprise party planned by his family’ and please don’t tell the nurse that you know about the surprise party. I want to talk to her more and this is the perfect excuse” I said jokingly.
“I knew you were a pervert from the start and don’t worry about me, I have got plenty of life left inside me.” He said and patted his chest with his hand.
“Then WhatsApp the number of your family and friends for me to organize a party” I said.
“Yeah I will WhatsApp you the contacts, Party this weekend bitches” He said. Does this man really have final stage cancer? He looks so happy, it is just like he has won an lottery right now.
I took my departure from his room and went straight to my home. I bought some mouth refreshing chewing gums, so that the smell of whisky oozing out of my mouth does not reach my parents. I reached my house and went to my room to lie on my bed. I started thinking about the old man. I mean the life has been unfair to him, yet he still lives his life to the fullest. I may not know him for a long time, but he has inspired me somewhat. I think I needed that inspiration to write my novel. It is now midnight and I am drunk, so I started to drunk message Melanie on twitter this time. Who knows I may have greater luck on Twitter than Instagram? I wrote a love message and send her, as usual, no reply from her side. I just played sad romantic songs and slept off on the thoughts of Melanie.
I woke up in the afternoon and had my breakfast, technically it is my lunch, but whatever. I finally decided to host the farewell party for the old man day after tomorrow. I contacted his friends and family and explained them the situation. Most of the friends agreed to come, while most of the far-off relatives were skeptical and would tell me tomorrow. I messaged Anamika about the party and she was okay with the date and time. Well I did not necessarily need to message the nurse, but I liked messaging her. Her WhatsApp profile picture is hot.
I then proceeded to start writing the new chapter of my novel. I spend two hours writing the novel, but after two hours I am on my phone scrolling the images of Melanie on Instagram. I have followed her official id and many fan pages. Her popularity has sky rocketed after 2nd season and she has become even more famous. She is now almost impossible for someone like me to meet her, but impossible is just a word. What is life without steep challenges? This is a quote I borrowed from an Instagram page. I needed these kinds of quotes to give me hope, hope that I can meet Melanie one day.’
It is evening and I got out of my house to buy some booze for the party the next day, but the problem is that I have never bought any booze from a vendor before. All the booze I have ever drunk has come from the old man. I just went to the atm and withdrew half of my savings, which is almost 16000 Rs. and went straight to the vendor to buy some alcohol.
“Brother, give me 3 antiquity blue and a crate of miller” I said and tried to acting arrogant as to look older than my age, but my body and face always interferes in these kinds of situations.
“Aren’t you a little young to buy alcohol” He said with a suspicious look.
“So what? Take an extra 500 and give me the bottles” I said putting up a tough face, but trembling in anxiety from within.
“Here take it.” He said and gave me the bottles. It is really amazing what you can do with a 500rs note in India.
I took the bottles of whisky and beer. I then went straight to the hospital to keep the bottles. On reaching outside of the hospital, I called Anamika and told her to come outside. She came outside in 5 minutes in her nurse uniform and she is as usual looking very sexy with the red lipstick applied on her lips.
“What happened Shyan and what are these bags for?” She came in with a barrage of questions.
“Hi to you too” I said in a sarcastic tone. “Well I wanted to smuggle these in” I said and showed the bags with the alcohol.
“Are you mad or what? Why do you need these alcohol bottles in the hospital for?” She said.
“I want it for the surprise party, what do you think all the people who are coming to the party will do. What are they going to drink in the party? Hurry if you could, these are heavy” I said.
She just nodded and let me pass through the security in a breeze. We entered the hospital at 8o clock.
“Now what, where are you going to keep these things” She said.
“Just follow me girl” I said and got inside the lift and pressed the button for the roof.
I took her to the roof and showed her the small fridge on the roof. It contained some beers and half-filled whisky bottle. She looked surprised to say the least.
“Who set it up? It could not have been you.” She said.
“It is actually set up by the old man. He has been drinking here secretly for almost 2 years. The hospital needs better security.” I said while keeping the beer bottles inside.
“The sky looks so pretty from here.” She said while staring at the sky.
“It certainly does” I said while finishing my work.
I finished my task of keeping the bottles in the fridge and we left the roof to go into the lobby of the hospital.
“You are coming day after tomorrow?” I asked her.
“It is my off on that day.” She said.
“Please come, it will be an awesome party.” I said. I really wanted her to be there. I would be bored in that party if she would not be in it. Every party should have some glamour right?
“Well who told you I am not going to come” She said with a smile on her face. I mentally did a victory dance in my head.
I then said good bye to Anamika and left for home. I reached home and went straight to the bed. I lay on my bed with lights turned off, earphones popped in my ears and music playing at the maximum volume. I usually listen to hip-hop or edm, but I decided to hear romantic songs today. Sad romantic songs give you a type of happy depression and the lyrics of such songs are both happy and sad at the same time.
Well I decided to search about Melanie and see what she is up to these days to pass the type. I typed in Melanie Scott in the google search bar and pressed enter on my phone. About 40 million results came in less than half a second. If I searched my name, I would also get the same results, but the person who will be showed would not be me.
I scrolled down the news section and apparently Melanie has just bagged her first movie project. She will be starring in a 200 million-dollar budget sci-fi movie. She is making great strides in her career. I saw the cast of the movie and the main cast was Melanie, Brand and Dustin. Wait why Dustin is in this movie. I scrolled some more and found an article, apparently the director wanted the chemistry of Melanie and Dustin that they showed in the ‘Dark World’ series to continue in the movie. I mentally cursed the director in my head. There now could be more kissing scenes between my sweet Melanie and Dustin, due to some dimwit wanting to continue their chemistry. The Thought of Dustin kissing Melanie just did not let me sleep and the sad songs just added fuel to my already burning heart.
I slept through the day because I did not sleep in the night. I woke up in the evening. I brushed my teeth and washed my face. I then proceeded to continue writing my novel. With Melanie growing in the industry, I really needed to get my act together. I wrote for 2 hours non-stop, I then took a break and checked my phone.
“Hi, the surprise party is still on, right?”
I got a message from Anamika. Well I looked her DP, she was wearing a knee height red,one-piece dress. She looked like the girl in the bar, who would get all the attention.
“Yeah, the party is on” I Texted back.
“Well, what color is your favorite color?” She asked.
“Why?” I counter questioned.
“I thought I would wear something of your color choice” She said. This was now getting interesting.
“Well you could guess my favorite color” I Teased her a little bit.
“Let me guess…. black” She texted.
“Nice guess, but you are wrong” I texted back.
“Then it will be blue” She took another guess.
“Nope, my favorite color is purple” I texted back. Actually, Purple is the favorite color of Melanie.
“Ahh…… I was not even close.” She texted back.
“Better luck next time” I texted.
“Let me see what purple dresses I have in my closet. See you tomorrow” She texted with a kiss emoji. This emoji is a web of misunderstanding in itself. I mean many people send kiss emoji like it is normal for then, but some people send heart emoji with a lot hopes. Well whatever, I do not care about it anyway.
I contacted old man’s friends again and told them to be at the front gate of the hospital in the evening.
It is afternoon now and I just sat on the sofa now staring at the fan. The rotation of the fan hypnotized me somewhat and I started to day dream about Melanie. I imagined getting married to Melanie and living together happily, with me making coffee for her in the morning and her thanking me and then licking my hand.
It felt so goo-, wait a minute, licking my hand? Something is wrong here. I could literally feel the licking in my hand. I suddenly opened my eyes and my hand still felt wet from the dream. Somebody is still licking it. I had a mini heart attack right there, but I gathered some courage and started to looks towards my hand slowly. To my relief I saw Shiro licking and playing with my hand. He stopped licking my hand when he noticed me looking at him and just looked at me with the utmost curiosity while slowly wagging his tail. I patted his head and massaged him so that he can sleep. I also tried to sleep again and continue the dream.
[CHAPTER-10] — CRAZY NIGHT
It is already 6:15 as I looked at my watch while still waiting for Anamika and others to show up. We were supposed to assemble at 6 PM, but as it is said about Indians “Everyone in India is in a hurry, but no one is on time”. Also, I wanted to see what kind of dress Anamika will wear today.
Anamika took another 5 minutes before gracing us with her presence. She came in wearing a purple jumpsuit with purple lipstick and purple nail polish to match with it. She looked like she has patented the purple color for the day and purple actually really suited her, she is looking pretty hot in the end and that is all that matters to me.
“Hi, how do I look?” She said while showing the dress to me.
“You look sexy” I complimented her.
“ohhh- thx, you look good too” she said. Her statement confused me. How did I look good? I am wearing my usual jeans and T-Shirt today.
Anyways, the remaining people we were waiting for arrived a few minutes later. There were now around 15 people including me and Anamika. I had invited more people, but they did not show up.
We entered the ward to give a surprise to the old man, who already knew about the surprise. I first went to the roof to get the beer bottles and whisky. I then came down and then the whole group went inside to surprise the old man. It is now 6:30 PM.
“SURPRISE” everyone shouted in unison as we entered the room.
“You guys are late” the old man said while lying on his bed facing opposite to us. I think he forgot that he has to act surprised as others think that he does not know about the surprise.
“Ahem, SURPRISE” I said it in somewhat of a sarcastic tone. The old man now looked behind.
“Oh, what a surprise.” he said while him trying to act surprised. He sucked at it.
He then greeted each of his friends who have come to visit him, maybe for the last time. The greetings were cut short by because of the alcohol. Old memories started to flow in the party, with everyone reminding some crazy or embarrassing situation they had with the old man. I and Anamika really felt out of place here as we were only quietly listening to others. After sometime I decided to get out of there and go to the roof for some fresh air. I reached the roof and looked at the setting sun. My phone suddenly started ringing, as I am admiring the scenery. Anamika is calling me.
“Where are you?” she asked me on the phone.
“On the roof” I replied.
“I am also coming on the roof wait” she said and disconnected the call. I waited for her to come on the roof and she came on the roof 5 minutes later.
“I felt so out of place in there” She said.
“I know right” I said in support of her observation. I then proceeded to the back and brought a bottle of whisky, two glasses and soda.
“Let’s have our party here” I said while pouring the drinks.
“Of course” she said as I handed the glass of whisky to her. We said cheers and started drinking. I started to ask some normal questions to kick start the conversation. I asked her about her reason behind becoming a nurse and some more questions like that. With more drinks going in, the questions started to get more personal. I asked her about her love life and about her boyfriends. She also replied without any hesitations. She also asked me the same questions. I did tell her about my crush on Aahna, but did not mention Melanie. I did crack some jokes in between to keep the conversation light.
“One more drink pleaseeeeee” She said in a childish way. I obliged her request and poured in another drink for her. The more she drunk, the more she started to express herself. She got really into expressing the details too.
“You know my ex was not even that good in the bed” She confessed to me.
“That was the main reason you left him?” I asked her.
“Well, he cheated on me. So, I dumped his ass” She said.
“But you are so beautiful and sexy. How can someone cheat on you” I declared.
“Oh, you are so sweet” She said and finished her drink.
We now were on the 6th drink. I was sitting underneath a half-moon with a beautiful lady accompanying me. It is like a picture-perfect moment of my life.
“I think the zip at the back is not tight enough, could zip it properly” she suddenly asked me. I then went towards her to zip her back. I touched her neck gently, her skin felt so smooth and soft. I zipped her jump suit tightly.
“You have got very soft skin” I complimented her.
“I know sweetie” She said.
I did not know what occurred to me, but I decided to kiss her neck. I gently put my right hand on her right side of her neck and kissed her on the other side. I started with little dabs at first. She did not mind at all. She turned towards me and started to kiss me on the lips, with her hands running through my hair. The warm touch of her lips is heavenly, our tongues touched with passion. Our bodies were now touching each other. I could feel her breast touching my chest and neither of us slowing down.
I proceeded to unzip her dress from the back. I slid my hand inside her suit and could now touch her naked back with my hands. We still locked lips, with us not stopping. She pushed me back and made me sit. She now crossed her legs on my body, with my hands touching her ass for support. I now squeezed her ass and while kissing her. She then put head towards her boobs.
“You want to play with these?” She asked me. I just nodded while feeling her body with my hands.
She pulled her suit from the top to expose her breasts which were covered by the bra. I moved my hands on her back to unhook the bra. I unhooked the bra, and now sucked the tits of the nurse like a child. She squeaked in pain and pleasure, as I bite into her nipples. My dick was super hard right now and she started to feel it. Well I am still a virgin at this point of time and it is looking like I was going to lose it today.
“Someone is getting hard” she said with a naughty look in her eyes. I liked the lusty look in her eyes.
She now started to unzip my pant and things were getting to start interesting. I just closed my eyes for a moment and saw Melanie standing in front of me. She stared at me with a disgusted look. Do I really want to do this with someone I do not have any sort of connection with? These thoughts started to create a doubt in me. I just could not see that look from Melanie, even if it is my imagination. I took an instant decision right away.
“I think we should stop” I said and started to push her away somewhat.
“What is the matter?” She asked me.
“It is not right” I said and started to assemble my things.
“Do you not like me or what? Am I not attractive enough for you?” She asked me.
I went near her and put her clothes back on her. I put the suit back on her and zipped it up.
“It is not you it’s me” I said. I now know why this line is used so much. It is the best line to get out of situations where you yourself are at fault.
“Why are all men so mean” She screamed at me, while I am waiting for the lift.
“I am sorry” I said and went inside the lift. I closed my eyes again as the lift is going down and this time I saw Melanie smiling at me. That was the smile I am looking for, I could not bear to see the disgusted face of Melanie.
My heart is very happy with the decision I have made, but my brain is telling me that this was the biggest blunder I had committed in my life. Well whatever, I have now made my decision and it is pretty much final. It is not like I can go back to Anamika and say “hey I am sorry about what happened few minutes ago, let’s continue from where we left”. Now that would be awkward.
I now came down the lift and entered the old man room again. Here everyone is high AF. I mean I saw uncles dancing with their shirts off and alcohol spread in the whole room. I think someone is even smoking weed near the window. I think it is time for me to leave. I went up to the old man and told him that I am going home. He thought I am leaving early, but I think he also felt that I did not belong here. He thanked me and gave me 20,000Rs and thanked me for all I had done. I did not want the money, but he insisted on keeping the money. He then proceeded to hug me and told me that we will see each other again someday. This is the first time I have seen such display of emotions from the old man. Well he has got less than a week of life left in him anyways. I then left for my home.
While I walked back, I could only think about the moment that happened on the roof. The image of Melanie disgusted with me still resided in my brain. I just could not bear that look, but the image of her smiling afterwards just melts my heart. I think I took the right decision on the roof. I reached my home at 9 and went straight to the bed. I tried to sleep, but I could not. I then decided to continue writing my novel. I opened my laptop and opened my novel. I stared at my novel for the next 10 minutes, but I could not even add a single word in my novel. I closed the novel and decided to pass the time on YouTube. While scrolling through my recommendations, I noticed a video which is titled ‘write a poem for your loved one to impress them’ and guess what did I do after watching that video. That is right, I started to write a poem for Melanie. I poured all my heart and emotions into that poem. The poem went like this.
The sun shines on you the brightest,
You are my god and you stand the highest.
I just need to hold you into arms,
You just mesmerize me with your looks and charms.
My existence is defined by your beauty,
Protecting you from any harm is my sole duty.
I will even fight my destiny and commit some crimes,
If that’s what it takes to make you mine.
I read these lines again and again. These lines really represented my feelings towards Melanie. I just read those lines I had written on a sheet of paper till I fall asleep. That piece of paper is the connection between me and Melanie. May the time come, when our connection is deeper than a piece of paper.
I woke up the next morning and started my day with an apology to Anamika via text message as I want to get the last night guilt off my chest. I then proceeded to brush my teeth and have a bath. I then came back to my room and saw the poem I had written laying on my study table. I took that poem in my poem and read it again. A smile automatically came on my face after reading those lines. These lines gave me internal happiness when I read them. I kept the paper in my pocket and took my phone out to see if I got a reply from Anamika. I scrolled down my messages, I did not get a reply from Anamika. Nothing interesting caught my eyes in my notifications until I saw a google notification with the title ‘Melanie daily news’. I clicked on the notification and opened the link. The blog loaded with the title ‘Melanie accepts the rumor circulating around her recently’. This is interesting, I also want to see what this rumor is. The article looked like this.
Melanie accepts the rumor circulating around her recently
Melanie is the up and rising star of the young generation, who came in the spotlight for her blistering performance in the web series Dark World. She has from then became an internet sensation.
Recently in her interview, Melanie has confirmed the rumor that has been floating for some time. Melanie-Dustin duo has been shipped by many around the world after their passionate kiss in the 2nd season of the series. Melanie had said in a previous on how it was her first kiss and that it holds a special place in her heart. The rumor about Melanie and Dustin dating each other has been floating around since the 2nd season, but in her recent interview, she has revealed that she and Dustin have been dating for 2 months. She then narrated the incident how Dustin proposed her while they were on a night out. Melanie also stated that it was the best night of her life. She still remembers the moment, the moment she said yes.
The duo is currently shooting their first Hollywood movie. What do you think about this new iconic couple? Do tell us in the comment section.
I read the article with utmost concentration and every line of that article stabbed me from behind like a sharp dagger. The line where Melanie told about Dustin’s proposal and how she said yes to his proposal is the one which hurt my heart the most. All of my enthusiasm and happiness vanished in seconds after I read the article.
I felt hollow from inside. The feeling of emptiness started to crept inside me. Maybe it is a fake article, I should check the authenticity first. I hurriedly started to search about this news and read many articles regarding their relation. Finally, I saw the video of the interview which was held yesterday. The more I saw the interview, the sadder I grow. I just switched off my phone and tossed it far from me. I now just sat in my bed filled with sadness and depression.
The girl you like and have a crush on starts to date some other guy. It fucking hurts you……It hurts you pretty bad.
I just sat in my bed and thoughts about Melanie started to pop in my head. The thought of Melanie just made me cry and crying is all I could do in this moment. A girl you love is in love with someone else. This situation is just emotional torture for me. The emotional pain inside me is eating me from inside. I just got out of my bed and grabbed a pen form the drawer. I then started to stab myself in the hand with the tip of the pen. I just wanted to counteract my emotional pain with physical pain. I stabbed myself multiple times on the same spot till some blood started to gush out. It provided some kind of relief, but the feelings and pain from inside were far too big to forget. I started stabbing myself even harder, my hand was pretty banged up, but I am pretty sure that my heart is banged up more badly.
“Go away” I started to shout while still stabbing myself. I had completely lost it.
Shiro entered the room and saw me stabbing myself in the hand. He just started to jump on me. He barked continuously until I stopped. I just laid in my bed and closed my eyes. Shiro just came beside and started to lick my wounds. I just took him in my arms and hugged him while tears were still rolling down my eyes. At least Shiro is there when I needed him.
I faded away in the darkness of my heart. I just could not get up from my bed as I laid there for the whole day doing anything. I have completely broken down from inside. I think it is never in my destiny to have Melanie. I took out my handkerchief from my pocket to wipe my tears. The poem I had written also came out of pocket as I took out my handkerchief. I read that page again, but the words were now very hard to swallow. I just tore the poem in pieces and threw the pieces into the air. The bits of paper now dropped on the floor slowly, each piece represented my heat which is shattered into pieces and falling into depths of despair.
This is probably the worst day of my life. I did not even eat anything at all today. I may have gone into hibernation as I did not feel like moving at all. I just laid there. I slept the whole day and did not wake up at all.
The next morning, I woke up with sore eyes. I grabbed my phone and switched it on. Please no more news on Melanie, I could even see the most disgusting things pop up in my phone right now, but I just could not bear more notifications about Melanie and Dustin. I checked my phone and there were 15 missed calls from Anamika and 20 messages from her on WhatsApp. She has asked me to contact her immediately. These missed calls are just an hour old. What could have happened?
I called her immediately and she picked up after 3 rings. I intended to apologize on the phone first, but she did not let me speak at all.
“Please come to the hospital fast” was all she said before hanging up the phone. I just followed her instructions and rushed towards the hospital.
I entered the hospital and called Anamika, she said to come into the room where old man is admitted. I went straight to the room, as I am close to reaching the room, I could see people gathered around the old man’s room. What has happened? I navigated through the crowd and came close to the entrance of the door. I saw Anamika standing in front of the door with two police officers asking her questions. It looked like a narcotic raid had took place and I think old man has been busted. I turned back and started to walk out of there.
“Shyan hey, come here” Anamika screamed. All others present there looked towards me. They looked at me like I was the drug dealer.
“Hey what has happened Anamika?” I asked Anamika. The other officers just stared at me while I asked the question.
“Are you a friend or relative of the patient in this room” the police officer asked me.
“Yes, I am” I replied.
“Well how to say this umm…… Mr. Nitish has died” she said with a deep tone.
“Okay, he is a cancer patient and doctors had said that he has not got that much of time left. So why is this a surprise?” I asked.
“That is the case. He did not die due to cancer he died because of poisoning. He drank phenyl from the bathroom. While phenyl is not deadly fatal, the victim’s body was in no condition to consume it. He died a very painful death.” The inspector on the right spoke.
“Why would he drink phenyl? It could have been a murder don’t you think, but he was gonna die soon anyway. So why now?” I started to run my brain and come up with theories.
“We are 99% sure that this is a suicide. We have found a suicide note, take a look at it” He said and showed me a photo of the letter he had on his phone.
I guess this is my suicide letter. If you are reading this, then I am already dead. I have lived a very tragic life, with everyone I cared about dead before me. It is very hard to be alone. The cancer was just salt in the wounds. I had my happy days and my bad days, mostly bad, but I always had my friends to cheer me up.
The lowest point of my life is the death of my son and Wife. I was completely shattered because of that. I had lost my will to live right at that moment, but my parents and friends were there for me. I lived for my parents and friends, after the death of my parents due to old age, I had grown lonely after their death. I still moved forward and lived my live. Then came the last nail in the coffin, I was diagnosed with cancer some 2 years ago. It is like god just could not wait to meet me. I struggled for these past 2 years with almost no one by my side this time. I wanted to die, when I heard about the cancer, but my parents would have wanted me to fight cancer and come out on top. With that thought I fought with cancer for these past couple of years. I gave up when I did not see me coming out at top. I waited for my time to come.
You may be wondering why I have committed suicide when I would have died in couple of days. I have committed suicide because I did not wanted cancer to take my life. I can now face my parents, my wife and my son. I can tell them that I fought with cancer. I can tell them that I did not let cancer take my life. It may sound very odd to the one reading this, but it is very important for me to commit suicide before cancer takes my life. It is something I had to do. Hope someone reading this understands me.
This is it for me, Sayonara world. I shall always remember the beating you gave me.
I read the note with full concentration. I understood his reasons for committing suicide. I think he needed peace with himself.
“As you can see this looks like suicide, we will match the handwritings of this note to the handwriting of the victim just to be on the safe side. We would like to have the numbers of his relatives to come to the station and give a statement.” The policeman said. He then proceeded to take out the body out of the room.
I just requested the officer to see the body one last time. He is hesitant, but he granted me permission to take a look at the dead body. I uncovered the sheet of cloth covering the body and saw the cold body of the old man. He looked pale, but at least he has found peace with himself.
I am a little shocked seeing the body, I do not want to see someone take these kinds of decisions. These couple of days has not been pretty for me.
“It was good knowing you, I will finish that novel for you. Cause you are the main character in it.” I said to the old man and covered his body with the cloth.
I went home after all the formalities. My mind was fucked up at this point of time. I just did not know what had happened to me, I knew that the old man would die anyway, why his death stings me now. I just punched the wall in disgust. I hate that man for ending his own life. He was a fucking coward, he was afraid of cancer. I tried to get back to my routine life in the next few days. I have my pre-board exams for 12th standard 2 weeks later, but I decided to not study for them and complete my novel in these two weeks. I wanted to finish my novel as quickly as possible.
I completely ignored my studies and completed my novel. My first novel is 259 pages long and it feels good to have the complete manuscript in my hand. I wanted to show this manuscript to Reyansh sir quickly. I will show my work on the day of the test, which is tomorrow. So, I decided to study for the exam. I opened my physics book and tried to study the first chapter, but I just could not get my thoughts straight to study. I am too exhausted from writing the novel. I just called it for the day and went to the bed.
[CHAPTER-11] — TIME TO SHOW MY WORK
“Wake up Shyan” my mother woke me in the morning. Today is day I show my work to Reyansh sir. I got ready for school and was about to leave, when my mom stopped me.
“Here have some dahi-shakar (curd and sugar). All the best for the exam” she said with a smile. I just could not bear that smile. I have not even studied for the exam, yet she has so much expectation out of me. I should have studied for my parent’s sake. I have got only one thing to do in this house and that is to study, but I fail at that task also.
“Thank Ma” I said with a heavy heart and left the house. I just want my parents to feel proud of me. I boarded the bus and studied in the bus till the bus reached the school as I did not want to fail the exam. My parents would be very disappointed with me and I did not want to see them disappointed. I could only study the first 4 chapter out of 16 chapters that were coming in the exam. I will not pass at all like this so I decided to improvise. I took my 4th generation I-pod and hid it inside my geometry box. It perfectly fitted in the geometry box. The I-pod contained all the notes. I just had to use it without raising suspicion to the teacher.
I got inside the class and went straight to my seat. I saw the boys arguing about what will come in the exam. Aaryan saw me and walked towards me.
“What’s up Shyan, all geared up for the exam?” Aaryan asked me.
“Not at all. It would be a miracle if I passed today” I said jokingly.
“Man, you are going to top the exam, you were so busy studying that you could not even answer our calls.” Karthik barged in with a sarcastic tone. It is true, death of the old man and the news about Melanie dating Dustin has took a mental toll on my body. I needed the alone time. So, I had ignored anyone for the past 2 weeks who tried to contact me.
“I had some things I had to take care of. I am sorry that I ignored you guys” I replied.
“It’s no big deal, lets tackle these exams or the teachers will make our life a living hell” Aaryan said jokingly.
“Yeah” Karthik agreed to Aaryan.
We were still discussing and joking about the exam, when the principal entered our class. Every student immediately went to their seat.
“Today I am going to be your invigilator for the exam, please fill out the details on your answer sheet and write your name on the question paper. Cheating will not be tolerated at any circumstances. I hope I have made myself clear.” She said in a clear and crisp tone. I just looked at the geometry box. It is pass or fail situation for me today and not even the principal is going to stop me from passing.
The answer sheets and question papers were distributed. I filled out the details of my answer sheet. My eyes were still scanning the question paper, but a familiar voice disturbed the whole class.
“Ma’am may I come in” Aahna said and entered the class. She walked up to my lane and sat on the desk next to me. She is not supposed to sit in this class, but I am too focused on the paper to give attention to these silly details.
I took a peek at the question paper and looked for the questions I could solve. The paper is of 70 marks. I needed 21 marks for passing, but with my limited knowledge I could only obtain 5 marks so I needed to put my plan to action. While the principal is busy with another student, I quickly opened the geometry and opened up my I-Pod. I opened up the chapter 6 notes and started to answer the questions related to it.
This method is quite good, but others seated near me could see a light falling on my face from the geometry box. Aahna could clearly see me using the I-Pod.
“No Cheating Aahna, look at your own paper” The principal said to Aahna who is looking at the I-Pod. I quickly shut my geometry box and started write the answer when the principal came near me. With the help of my I-Pod I have now just solved a 6 marks question. I now have secured 11 marks out of the 21 mark I required, but for the next 1 hour the principal did not give me an opening to use the I-Pod. I just sat there waiting for an opportunity.
I tried to attempt other questions, but I am completely clueless on how to solve these questions. The principal did not move her gaze from my area. It looks like a lost cause and I am going to fail these exams were the thoughts circulating in my brain.
“Ma’am extra sheet” A voice from the left corner interrupted. This distracted ma’amand somewhat gave me an opportunity to use the I-Pod. I took out my geometry again and opened my I-Pod, but it asked me to enter the pin first. I cursed the Lock pin I had put on my I-Pod because it cost me precious seconds. Anyway, I did see some critical formula in the notes, which I needed to solve the question.
“Ma’am I have a doubt.” Aahna said. The principal started walking towards us. I cursed Aahna, she knew what I am doing, yet she invited the principal.
I quickly closed my geometry box in haste, but forgot to press the power button of the I-Pod. My geometry box now looked like a pandora box, with light coming from the I-Pod visible through the holes of the geometry box. I just pretended reading my answers, as the principal walked past me.
I think I have seen enough from the notes to solve the questions I required to pass the exam. I completed my test and submitted my answer sheet. I quickly got out of the classroom and went to the staff room. The staff room is empty with only Reyansh sir sitting in his desk playing CS go in his laptop. I quietly sneaked up on him.
“I have done it. I have completed my novel. Nice headshot!” I said. He immediately closed the laptop and looked back to see who it was.
“Come on don’t scare me like that. Man, I was about to win the match” he said.
“Leave that, I completed my novel!” I exclaimed
“Huh, which nov-, ah the novel you were working on. Let’s talk on the roof” He said and stood up from his chair.
We went to the roof to talk. We could have talked in the staff room, but I think he wanted to smoke a cigarette.
“Well, do you have the manuscript right now with you” he said while taking out a cigarette from his pocket. He lit the cigarette and took a puff of it.
“I have it on my laptop and on the drive. So, what is the plan now?” I asked him.
“I have a friend named Sam, who is an agent. He can link you up with some editors. Let’s call him right now” He said and took out his phone and called his friend Sam. After 4 rings Sam picks up the call. Reyansh sir puts the phone in speaker
“Hey Reyansh, how are you motherfucker?” Sam said from the other end. Well he did not know that the phone was on speaker and someone else was also hearing the conversation.
“I am fine man, how are you?” Reyansh sir cross questioned him.
“I am rocking it here. So why have you called? Let me guess Natalie broke up with you again.” Sam said in a joking tone.
“Nothing like it, actually we are going to marry next year.” Reyansh sir said.
“Congrats dude. Where is my party?” Sam asked Reyansh sir.
“Yeah dude, I will have a bachelors party before the weeding. Unlimited alcohol, unlimited fun and if you want, I could also arrange for some strippers.” Reyansh sir said. Now I think he has forgotten that I am standing beside him.
“Yeah strippers sound nice” Sam said.
“Please invite me to the party also” I said reminding sir that I am here.
“Who is that, is the phone on conference. Please don’t tell me it is my girlfriend. I was joking about the bachelor’s party baby. I will never party in my life” Sam said in a terrified tone. He sounded definitely frightened, but I am fucking shocked that he mistook my voice for his girlfriend.
“It is just my student, I have called you regarding him only” Reyansh sir said.
“Thank god. I was scared out of wits. Well what you want from me” Sam asked.
“I have a student named Shyan. He has written a novel and wants his work edited and published. You being in this business may help him out” Reyansh sir said.
“I see, let’s meet first. Bring your student with you this Saturday at Nehru Place. We will discuss about the novel there.” Sam said.
“That’s sounds good” Reyansh sir said.
“Then it is final and don’t forget about the bachelors party. I want strippers” Sam said.
“Yeah yeah, bye then. See you this weekend” Reyansh sir said and ended the call.
“Bring your novel this Saturday. We will go and visit him” Reyansh sir said.
“That’s all okay, but please invite me to the bachelor’s party too” I said and we both laughed. We then walked to the staff room again.
We reached the staff room and I saw Aaryan standing inside the staff room.
“What are you doing here Aaryan” I asked him.
“Searching for you man. Principal has asked us to summon you in front of her” Aaryan replied
“Why?” I asked.
“There was a surprise inspection for mobile phones and Aahna was caught with a phone. She then mentioned that you also brought a phone and cheated in the exam. The principal did not like the idea of someone cheating while on her watch.” He explained.
“Did Aahna really do that?” I asked him.
“Yes, I am afraid that is the case” He said.
“What is this about cheating?” Reyansh sir intervened.
“I needed to complete the novel. So, I did not study for the exam, but I needed to pass the exam. The rest of the story should be very clear.” I said.
“Well where the phone is” Reyansh sir asked me.
“I have it in my bag. They will check my bag, so you can have it. Keep it safe for the time being sir” I replied. I took my bag and searched for the geometry box.
“It does not matter if you give it me or not. What if they call your mother to confirm that your phone is in the home?” Reyansh sir asked.
“Well I am counting on that. There is a reason on everything I do in my life” I said trying to sound cool. I took out the geometry box from my bag and took put the I-Pod inside it. I gave it to Reyansh sir.
Me and Aaryan then went to see the principal in the classroom. The whole class is silent with the principal, Aahna and the PT teacher standing in the front talking with each other.
“Ma’am, may we come in” Aaryan said as we entered the class. The principal looked at us like a predator looks at its prey.
“So, Shyan how was the test?” Principal asked me. She is trying to act a little too smart.
“It was okay, not that great” I replied in a childish tone.
“Well your class mates here are saying that you have used your phone to cheat in the exam. Even bringing your phone in the school is not allowed, let alone cheat using it. Do you have anything to say about this?” The principal straightforwardly accused me.
“Yeah I have something to say. I have done nothing of such sorts which you accuse me of. In fact,my phone is nicely lying under my pillow.” I defended myself.
“Don’t lie. Let me check your bag” The PT teacher interrupted and suddenly snatched my bag.
“I have nothing to hide. Go ahead and check everything” I said.
The PT teacher checked my bag thoroughly. He checked my bag like this is a drug bust, with me being the junky. At last not founding anything useful, he took out my pen drive from the bag and showed it to the principal.
“How am I supposed to cheat using a pen drive? I do not even have any usb ports in my body” I said sarcastically. A little laughter erupted in the class.
The principal just stared at the PT teacher. Her eyes were conveying to put that pen drive back and stop embarrassing her. He took the cue and put the pen drive back into my bag.
“It could be that you have given the phone to someone else.” the Principal deduced. I must say she is a smart and a clever old woman.
“Ma’am these are all accusations, until you have the proof to back them” I challenged her.
“Ma’am he did not cheat in this exam” Anubhav backed me. At least my friends are backing me.
“It will all be clear in a short moment. Shyan, I am giving you last chance to own up. If you will not own up then I will call your mother and confirm” she now threatened me.
“Go ahead ma’am.” I stayed adamant.
She took out her phone and gave me to dial the number. I dialed my mother’s number and gave it back to her.
“Hello, good morning. Am I speaking to Shyan’s mother?” Principal said on the phone. I could not hear all their conversation, but I figured she has asked my mother about the whereabouts of my phone and my mother would have confirmed that my phone was in the home.
“I am sorry for disturbing you, bye” The principal said and disconnected the call. I just stood there looking at her. I knew that I was safe.
“Shyan, what did you get by lying to us. Your phone is not present in your home” Principal said with a sly smile on her face.
“It is not possible. My phone should be in the home. Let me talk to her for one second” I requested.
“I have talked to her, now hand over the phone” She said.
“Come on hand over the phone” The PT teacher started to now pressurize me.
“Ok here” I placed my hand in the pocket and took out an imaginary phone out of the pocket and kept it in front of the Principal.
“Is this some kind of joke?” Principal asked me.
“No, I am giving you the phone I have. Oh, wait I don’t have a phone right now” I made a point
as Reyansh sir entered the class a moment later to ease up the tension a little. He is not carrying the I-pod with him which is a good thing for me.
“What is the matter here ma’am” He asked the principal.
“Sir could you give your phone for a minute. I need to make a phone call to my mother” I said.
“Sure” He said and gave his mobile phone to me.
“There is no need to trouble your mother again. I lied. your phone is in the home” Principal ma’am admitted as I dialed my mother’s number.
A silence of 2 minutes shadowed the class, with me standing in the front, knowing that I have won.
So, can I go to my seat now?” I broke the silence.
“I know that Aahna does not lie. Give up on your act. Lying gives you a guilty conscious. You will not be able to sleep in night” Principal made a last-ditch effort.
“I am not able to sleep at night anyway.” I said and walked towards my seat. It is true, after the death of the old man and the news about Melanie has kept me awake almost every night.
The principal just stormed out of the class, with the PT teacher following her. Reyansh sir just shrugged and started to teach us like nothing has happened.
“Dude you owned the principal today” Karthik said to me.
“How did you do it? I also saw you using your phone in the exam and I know you do not have another phone.” Anubhav asked me.
“Shyan has manipulated a simple misconception you have in your mind to his advantage.” Aaryan started to explain.
“What misconception?” Karthik asked.
“You all think that it is a phone. In fact, it was an I-Pod which Shyan used.” Aaryan explained.
“That is correct. The I-Pod is so old that I doubt my mother even remembers about that it exists” I added.
We then laughed and high fived each other after knowing how we fooled them, but I am a little upset with Aahna snitching on me, but I decided to not confront her regarding this.
I had my meeting with Sam this Saturday. So, I decided to read my novel from the start and check if I had any grammatical mistake or if I needed to rewrite anything. I would now go home from school and devote 2 hours to read my novel and rest of the hours to study for my exams. Once I started to read my novel, I started to discover my loose wording and sentences. It did not feel very nice to read the sentences. My words were not able to tell the story I intended to share with the audience.
I would be really embarrassed if someone reads this, so I decided to rewrite my novel where it seemed loose. I definitely did not want to embarrass myself and Reyansh sir by showing this kind of work to his friend. I devoted extra hours on remodeling my novel. It hampered my studies for the ongoing exams, but I studied enough to just pass all my exams.
I made changes in all of my chapters without changing the plot of my story. It is a lot of work, but I chipped little by little to finish it. I did make a lot of progress, but Saturday came way faster than I anticipated. I have tried to restructure my novel to the best I could do with the time I had, but I still did not feel confident in my work. It still felt incomplete, but nothing could be done now. I had to present it to Sam.
It is 2:00 in the afternoon with me packing my laptop in my bag and getting ready to meet Sam. Reyansh sir would pick me up in about 30 minutes and then we would meet Sam in a café. I am very nervous from inside as I am actually very shy about showing my work to somebody. As I was thinking how I would give a summary of my novel to others, my phone rang. It is Reyansh sir. He is waiting for me outside.
“I am going out, lock the door” I told my mother before leaving. I saw Reyansh sir sitting in his car parked in front of house. The car sir has brought is a sedan and it looked new from the outside. I opened the front passenger door and sat inside the car.
“How are you feeling today” Reyansh sir asked me.
“I am feeling very nervous today. Ghosh, I don’t know why, but the thought of showing my novel somewhat embarrasses me.” I replied.
“Don’t worry Sam is a good person. No need to be nervous.” Reyansh sir said and started the car.
I was still very nervous and was profusely thinking how this meeting will go, but my nervousness soon evaporated into thin air when sir started driving. I am now terrified, not because of the novel, but because of the amazingly dangerous driving from Reyansh sir.
“Slow down sir” I screamed as we were travelling at 140 km/hr at a 40km/hr limit road.
“Just relax a bit” he said me to relax, but he himself is in no way relaxing on his driving. We overtook many cars and trucks which were in front of us. There is a blockade of cars in front of us witing for the traffic light to go green. We were just about just half a kilometer in front of the traffic light, but he did not slow down. In fact, he pressed the accelerator even more.
“Red light, Red light “I screamed, but he did not listen to me. He just accelerated like it is an empty road. I thought this is the end of me. I just remembered my life and thought about my parents, Melanie and friends. As we were like 150 meters from the red light, he pulled the handbrake up. The wheels of the car locked up and we skidded towards the front. The car stopped with a lot of smoke coming from the tires.
“Sir a sedan car is said to give a smooth ride. Please drive smoothly” I pleaded with sir.
“I always drive like this. You just sit back and chill” He said and I sat there hoping that the signal would never get green, but when has life given me what I wanted. The signal turned green and my torment continued for the rest of the journey.
We reached our destination in about 30 minutes. These were the most life threatening 30 minutes of my life. I just got out of the car and kissed the ground as I am happy that I was still alive. I don’t know how we survived this kind of driving. Reyansh sir got out of the car and started stretching his arms.
“If it was not for your constant nagging, I could have driven faster” He stated.
“I am sorry that I have concerns for my safety, which I got to tell you was gravely in danger in this ride.” I came back at him.
“Whatever. The café Sam mentioned should be a little inside the market” He changed the topic completely. We went inside the market to find a café named ‘Belmonte’ where we were supposed to meet Sam. We struggled for the next 15 minutes to find the café. We tried asking the vendors nearby for directions, but every time we found a dead end when we followed the direction provided by others.
“Come on, this is not working. We are walking for about 20 minutes without having any clue about the location of the café.” I declared.
“What am I supposed to do?” Reyansh sir asked me.
“Call Sam” I replied.
“I am not that dumb. I have tried calling him, but his phone is switched off” He said.
“Well, we are shit out of luck aren’t we” I said and looked up at the sky. The sun is partly covered with grey clouds and it looked like it would rain soon.
“What am I supposed to do? It is not like I point at any direction and the café will miraculously be in that direction” Reyansh sir pointed in the upper left direction. I looked in that direction and saw a hoarding hanging from an old building. I tried reading it. It spelled B-E-L-M-O-N-T-E. I just stood there dumbstruck. I mean what Reyansh sir has said actually became a reality. I just grabbed his shoulder and made him see what I saw. He too looked at the board in awe.
“I was just joking around. Looks like I have some kind of super power.” He said.
“I think this is nothing more than a fluke this time” I said.
“Wait let me try something.” He said and closed his eyes. He then pointed his finger at a random direction.
“There will be a gorgeous and beautiful lady standing at the direction of my finger” Reyansh sir said and pointed his finger in a random direction. He then opened his eyes and I am sure he was disappointed at what he saw. Apparently, he pointed towards a street dog that is sleeping peacefully.
“Well, the dog is female and there is beauty in every living thing” Reyansh sir said as he was trying to take the high morale stand.
“I agree with you that every living thing is beautiful, but that is dog is a male. Look closely” I said and he looked at the dog again.
“Whatever, can we go to the café” He said in an irritated tone. Looks like he really believed that he had some superpowers. Poor him.
We followed the hoarding and found ourselves in front of an old building. The café is located on the fourth floor and guess what? The elevator is broken.
“Whose face did I see when I woke up?” I asked.
“You probably saw yourself in the mirror” The sarcasm oozed out of Reyansh sir as we started climbing the stairs. Piles of sweat started to appear on our forehead as we reached the 4th floor. Only the cold and soothing air of an air conditioner would redeem our efforts. Fortunately, as I pushed the front entrance of the café, a strong cold wind mingled with our bodies and we finally have achieved eternal peace. We then took our seats and enjoyed the air conditioning while waiting for Sam. The café is not big or anything, but was very decent in size with great graffiti on the wall. I was completely mesmerized with the graffiti in the wall that I did not notice that somebody had approached our table and was communicating with Reyansh sir.
“So, this is the one I was talking about” Reyansh sir said and tapped on my shoulder. I came out of my graffiti fantasy and looked towards them. There stood a 6’1 man standing beside Reyansh sir. He has fair complexioned with a skinny body and has a full-grown beard and very long hair.
“So, you are the crazy one who wants to become famous eh” He said and thrusted his right hand forward for a handshake.I also reacted with thrusting my arm forward for the handshake. We shook hands and I introduced myself. We then took our seats and ordered 3 coffees to start off.
“So, show me what you have got for me today young man” Sam said.
“Yeah sure” I said while fiddling through my bag to take out my laptop.
I took out my laptop and showed him the manuscript. He looked at it once and looked unimpressed. He just lay back in the sofa and took a sip from his coffee. Reyansh sir also picked up his cup and took a sip from it. With me being clueless on what is happening decided to follow the suit and took a sip from my drink.
“Well this all is fine, but when I want to know a story then I like to hear the straight from the writer. I don’t want to see a long manuscript. I want to know the reason on why this novel is different from other novels. I want to know what makes this novel special in your words.” Sam asked me. The question did caught me a little off guard, but the Professionalism and passion showed by Sam is admirable. It showed that he is at least serious about my work.
I explained my plot to him and the character it was inspired from. I even shed some light on my ambition of becoming famous through writing to meet someone in this life. They both listened to me with their full attention. I finished explaining my story and looked at them to get their feedback on my story, but they just sat there like some sort of statues, without moving and speaking anything for the next 2 minutes. I just sat there, doing the same. I wanted to slice through the silence, so I bent forward to get hold of my coffee cup, but the cup is empty. Bummer.
After the 2 minutes of deadly silence Sam finally spoke.
“Damn Reyansh, he is smoking some good stuff” Sam said. This was his analysis of my story, that the story is not logical to him. I am worried that Sam is not impressed with my story.
“The plot is pretty out of the box I must say” Reyansh sir said and laughed with Sam also joining in on the fun, while I sat there barely amused by them.
“Now coming to the business, look Shyan, I am an agent not a publisher so it’s not me you have to convince your story. Let me tell you that writing a novel is great but it is just one step of the ladder. Next step is to edit the manuscript and making a cover for your book. Then it is finding a publisher blah blah blah. My point is that there are a lot of things to be done before your book really gets in the hands of the readers. I will take care of the publisher and the book cover first and let’s see what happens from there.” Sam said and signaled the waiter for the bill. His words somewhat relieved me of my anxiety I was feeling a moment ago.
“Man young boys writing novel and looking to publish them. The upcoming generation is so confident and direct” Reyansh sir exclaimed.
“True, everyone cannot be like you. Still not be able to tell your feelings to Tanya for the past 12 years and this young boy here is writing novels to meet someone he has not even met ever just because he liked her work. Man, take some inspiration from the boy” Sam said and laughed. Well seeing my teacher getting teased right in front of your eyes is funny to say the least.
“I will someday convey my feelings to her” Reyansh sir said in his defense.
“Yeah I have been hearing that one literally for over a decade now and you are getting married the next year” Sam said while paying the bill. We then exited the café and began our walk down. While walking down I could only imagine the situation where I meet Melanie and how I would shake her hand and tell her how I am her biggest fan. I would also tell her that Dustin looks like a big jerk and that she should stay away from him.
“So look Shyan, this is my card with my phone and email I’d Written on the bottom. Just mail me your manuscript and phone number and I will be in touch.” Sam told me. We then shook hands and Sam left.
With our job done I and Reyansh sir walked towards our ride with me thanking him for setting up this meeting.
“It’s no big deal, just give me 20% of what you make” Reyansh sir joked.
“For sure” I said and opened the front door of the car. As I proceeded to sit in the car a strange goose bump suddenly hit me. I suddenly fastened the seat belt and looked around. I did not know why I felt this uneasiness.
“Sir, is there some kind of ghost in this car or something because I am getting creepy vibes from the car” I said while still a little frightened.
“Strange” Reyansh sir said and started the engine of the car. As the engine bursted to life the horrific memories of our near to death ride to this afternoon came rushing back. I just tightened my seat belt and prayed for my safety. May I never see the demon named Reyansh sir's driving ever again.
[CHAPTER-12] — THE WAIT
It’s been a week since my meeting with Sam. I have emailed him my manuscript and my number and now wait for his response. The most difficult thing a person does in his life is to wait for something to happen. It is hard to just sit there and do nothing. I had to focus more on my normal life for the moment and with my teachers hell bent on occupying my time with their life sucking assignments, I had to prioritize my school over my current objective. While I focused more on school in the day, the nights were still occupied by the thoughts of my novel getting a good publisher and a good response from the readers after it launches. I even hoped that one of my readers will be Melanie. I would even enact the scene where I am giving the success speech of my journey with Shiro being my audience looking perplexed on what his master is doing. I am 90% sure my dog thinks of me as some sort of lunatic, but he has to endure it since I have the biscuits he so desperately wants.
More days went by without any sort of news on the progress and this led me to become impatient. My mind started to imagine thousands of thoughts simultaneously on how my novel will pan out with other people. I even started to have thoughts on my future, but the irony of life is that whatever you think might happen with you in the future, most certainly never occurs in your life.
I also developed some angered feelings towards Sam for his incompetency of not even giving me a single update. Even some bad news is more soothing than no news at all. The countless nights spend by my brain over thinking almost led me to a anxiety disorder. I thought that all the efforts I had made were futile.
Now 2 months have passed since my meeting with Sam and I have almost lost all hope. I have developed a very negative mindset in this time. That reflected in my way of thinking as well. This previous week incident in school was a good example of it. It was the english period with Reyansh sir explaining a poem to the class.
“How close is my destiny
Yet it is always out of reach
Still I plough forward
To one day be able to achieve my goal”
“What does poet want to convey through this stanza” Reyansh sir asked the class.
“He wants to convey that no matter what you do. You will always end up being short” I answered.
“Thanks for the answer Shyan. While Shyan answer is somewhat correct, it only shows the one side of the coin. While certainly the poet is far from achieving his goals, yet he conveys to us that he his ever so hopeful to reach his goal one day.” Reyansh sir said.
“And the poet is woman not a man. So, using ‘He’ for the poet is somewhat sexist” A classmate pounced on me and usually I would have just said sorry and moved on, but I was in no mood that day.
“Great point, but you pointing that out did not contribute anything to the discussion. Here I will now call the poet ‘it’ from now on. Look I just objectified a person, any human rights activist here to question me? “I said very cheekily. Reyansh sir just stood there dumbstruck with my fellow classmate who asked the question joining sir in his dumb struckness, while Karhik, Aaryan and Anubhav were looking at me and whispering “OP man”.
Actions do have their consequences. I was called by Reyansh sir in the staff room to explain my behavior, but it was nothing serious. I guess sir wanted to know why I was on the edge that day. I did not mention about Sam not contacting me. I did not want him to pry on Sam on my asking. He has already done a lot for me.
I just lost all the remaining hope I had when another half a month passed away. I decided to forget about the novel. I thought that this was it, today is the day I finally relinquish my attempts on meeting Melanie, but my stars had some other plan for me. It is strange that the person you expected to deliver fails when you have a lot of hope for him, but then he suddenly delivers when you lose all. The call came the next day, on a Saturday morning. As my phone woke up my deep slumber.
“Hello, who is it?” I asked as I picked up the phone.
“Hey Shyan it’s Sam. Sorry for calling this early in the morning “Some guy named Sam said from the other end. Then it suddenly hit me who is calling.
“Sam as in Sam Witwicky. Have the Decepticons attacked again” I said while still half asleep. My assumption of the Sam on the other end is highly influenced by the transformer trilogy I watched late at night. The phone then suddenly got disconnected from the other end.
I then woke up and went towards the bathroom to wake myself from the sleep. As cold water splashed across my face, my fricking brain realized which Sam was on the phone moments ago. I then rushed out of the bathroom and picked up my phone from the bed to redialed the number, but a phone call from Reyansh sir interrupted my rescue mission.
“Hey, Reyansh sir” I said still processing about the situation I have put myself in.
“Good morning Shyan” Sir said from the other end. What is good about the morning is my initial response my brain thought of.
“Good morning sir” I said.
“Hello Shyan” said a familiar voice. It is like I have just heard this voice before this call.
“Hello…..who is this on the line?” I inquired.
“It’s Sam” Sam said and I am pretty sure this time that it was not Sam Witwicky on the other end of the call.
“So basically Sam tried calling you just a few moments ago, but the there was some sleepy dude on the other end spouting some kind of nonsense. I guess you gave the wrong mobile number in the mail. So, he contacted me to contact you as he has some good news to share.” Reyansh sir said. Thank god, they have not figured it out that the sleepy dude they are talking about is me and I intend to keep it that way.
“Yeah, indeed the news is good” Sam reconfirmed what Reyansh sir has just said.
“Will someone spill the beans then” I urged them to tell the news. The suspense vibe they were trying to create is annoying me a bit.
“So, we have finally made some book covers for your novel and want you to choose from the options. You could come down tomorrow to see the options and present your input on it as it is your novel at the end of the day. Isn’t it exciting” Sam said excitedly. This is indeed good news, as it showed some progress has been made, but still my mind is stuck on that one question I want to ask Sam.
“That is all fine, but Sam can I ask you a question” I said.
“Fire away” Sam said.
“What’s the status on finding a publisher for the book” I asked the million dollar question looming over my head.
“Ahhhh, I am trying. It takes time to get the publisher on board for the project. They are more of business minded people. They will only look at your book if your book can rake in the money they want.” Sam replied. In other words no publisher has accepted my book as of yet. I expected that much, but still it hurts to know that the thing you have given so much, but no one has accepted your work
“Shyan don’t get demotivated. Just keep marching forward and hope for the best” Reyansh sir reconciled me.
“I am not losing hope. I just wanted to know.” I replied.
“It’s fine to be skeptical, don’t worry. Just first come and decide on the cover first. I will message you the address and let’s meet tomorrow.” Sam said on the phone and I agreed to meet him tomorrow. Seeing the cover for my book does excite me a little and these services were given to me for free, so I can’t complain too much. While I and Sam were discussing on the book covers, some strange background noises kept interrupting us.
“What is that annoying noises?” Sam said in a frustrated tone.
“I don’t know. The noises are not coming from my end” I said as I tried to figure out what those voices were. Listening closely, I could make that it is the sound of a knife cutting something on the vegetable board.
“Sorry guys, just ignore the noises from my side. Just cooking my breakfast here” Reyansh sir solved the little mystery. By the noises I could make that he is cutting some vegetables while a cooker was on the stove. The irritating whistle of the cooker gave it away for me.
“Poor Reyansh, cooking alone in the kitchen because he has no girlfriend to help him out. My sympathies. Even his marriage is cancelled.” Sam teased Reyansh sir. It has to hurt Reyansh sir somewhat.
“Say what you want. I am happy with my life as it is. Stop embarrassing me in front of my student. Do you have anything more to say or could I continue with my cooking.” Reyansh sir said.
“Well you could send the amount we had agreed upon” Sam said. Hearing this waked up my curiosity a little. ‘What amount’ this phrase stuck around my head.
“We will talk about it in evening. Shyan just go and make sure you have the right book cover for your novel. It’s cru- Ah fuck, the rice is fricking burned to shit.” Reyansh sir proclaimed his frustrations.
“Fucking idiot I am.” Reyansh sir shouted in the background. His mood sounded very bad.
“Shyan let’s meet at 12:00 tomorrow” Sam said. It is our cue to disconnect the call to avoid a fuming Reyansh sir. As I disconnected the phone, my mother entered the room to ask me what I wanted for breakfast. I simply replied “Anything that does not involve rice”.
The rest of the day went by pretty quickly, with me searching about good book covers on google to have a decent idea on how the covers should look like. For tomorrow I decided to wake up early for a change. I set the alarm for 8 in the morning and went to bed at 1 in the night. I slept very comfortably and woke up without the alarm ringing with the sun still not risen completely. It is still a little dark outside. With me feeling completely refreshed and rejuvenated, I took my phone to scroll through the messages from previous night and went to the toilet to take a piss. With my one hand supporting the phone and the other hand supporting my small buddy, all look sorted for the morning, but As I am scrolling through the messages, my gaze went a little upwards to see the time. The time on my phone told me that it is fricking 11:47 and I am supposed to meet Sam at 12:00 today. There were only 13 minutes left, with the reality dawning upon me that I am late. Well the situation is not new to me at all, but I needed to act fast to be on time. I finished my business in the toilet and popped a brush into my mouth quickly. I brushed my teeth with one hand and checked the location of where I am supposed to go with my phone on the other hand. Multitasking my way through the morning, I finally got ready at exactly 12:00 with my cab waiting for me outside. Even I am astonished on how fast I was this morning. The multitasking that I did today would even put intel processors to shame.
I opened the front door of my uber and jumped inside the car. I would still be late in the meeting, but late by only 30 minutes, which is fine. Indians are not known for being punctual anyways. The ride in the car went smoothly, with the whole journey being very quiet. A quiet ride in an Uber is a definite 5 stars from my side. I reached my destination and gave the driver his deserved 5 stars. I now stood in front of a big sky Scrapping of building with every side covered with glass. The reflection of the sun rays from all those glass actually made me a little dizzy as I navigated my way to the entrance of the building. I am supposed to meet Sam at the entrance of the building, but I could not see him there so I called to check up on him.
“Where are you? I am waiting here for you” I said as Sam picked the Phone up on the 6th ring.
“Sorry, I am running late. I woke up late and am behind schedule. Will reach there in 30 minutes” Ah the irony of the situation is too good to be true. I still have 30 minutes to pass before Sam comes. So, I decided to head up first and meet the person who has made the cover of my book. The name of the company where we are supposed to go is called Nimble pvt limited. It is a web designing company and my cover was designed by an employee working there. The name of the employee is Naman, a 32 year old software developer/web designer. Well that’s all the details Sam gave me about the guy. Looks like Naman is a hard working guy, the dude is working even on Sundays. Now that’s dedication to his work. I entered the building and saw a guard sitting in a chair, with him playing some game on his phone. I interrupted his quest of capturing the high score, to ask him on which floor is the office of Nimble pvt limited is situated. He ignored my question completely and continued to play his game. Being rudely ignored by him I just looked around to see if I could get hold of someone else to tell me about the floor in which I wanted to go. My search finally ended, when my eyes locked towards a big bulletin board. The name all of all the companies were written in the board and were classified according to the floor in which they were situated. I sorted though the various floors to find the floor where Nimble pvt limited is located. At last my eyes gazed on the companies situated on the 11th floor, with Nimble pvt limited written big yellow color inside the column. I now approached towards the lift to go to the 11th floor of this building. As I pushed the lift button, my eyes went towards a circular note pasted below the button. The words written on it were nothing short than horror to me. The circular notice read “The lift is under Maintenance. We are sorry for the inconvenience caused”. Now I have to climb 11 floors through the stairs, suddenly the company named ‘nimble’ did not seem very nimble to me. I started my long journey towards the top and by the time I reached the 3rd floor, a sudden thought pondered over my mind. It is not the first time that me meeting Sam has caused me to climb stairs because of a broken lift. The same thing happened in the café also, but that time it was only three floors and this time it is fricking 11 floors. If we go by the pattern, then I would have to climb 18 floors when I meet Sam again. I reached 8th floor with my brain still brimming with thoughts on the amount of stairs I would have to climb next time. I am now sweating profusely, with my shirt drenched in sweat. The excessive loss of fluids from my body even made me quite thirsty. I stopped my climb on 8th floor to rejuvenate myself and my fluids as I found a toilet at the edge of the lobby and went in for a quick face wash. After reviving myself from outside with some splashing water, now I needed to quench my thirst to continue my journey to the top. I made a quick stop on the water cooler help myself to a glass of cold water. As I was enjoying my cold water, another person came beside me to drink water from the cooler. I just continued to enjoy my water without looking at the person beside me.
“Hello there, where do you want to go kid” the person enquired. I turned around to face the man. I saw a 6’3 guy with a very dark complexion and lean body standing in front of me. He is dressed in a guard uniform with splashes of tea all scattered all across his shirt. His height is somewhat intimidating me a bit. By the looks of it the man is maybe in his late thirties or early forties.
“I want to go to the 11th floor, need to meet someone there.” I replied as I sipped the last of my water in the cup. I then crushed the plastic cup, tossed it into the bin and started moving towards the stairs to complete my long journey.
“The lift is on the other way” the guard shouted across the floor as I reached the stairs. Oh yeah,
What an idea sir, I am a fool who is using the stairs. This was the reply I wanted to spurt out at the moment.
“The lift is not working, what to do” I obviously decided to not let my mind do the talking.
“The backup lift is working at the back. We always use that lift when the main lift is under maintenance” well the answer he gave just purged my mind into oblivion.
“Where is that lift” Now I wanted to see that secret lift with my own eyes.
“Just go to the fire exit stairs, the lift is on the left side” I walked briskly towards the fire exit take a look at that hidden lift after he said those words. To my utter disgust, I saw a very functional lift. I pushed the up button and the lift slowly began its journey from the ground floor to the 8th floor. ‘Alas, I could now take the lift for the final 3 floors’, were the thoughts of my brain, when suddenly the lights on the ceiling switched off. The sunlight still illuminated the floor through the windows. I looked at the lift indicator to see where the lift has reached, as I turned my head to see, a empty indicator with no indication of which floor it lift is in greeted m vision. I then realized that there is a power cut and waited for 5 minutes for the power to come back. After no sign of the power coming back anytime soon, I decided to just accept my fate and headed towards the stairs. At last I reached my destiny with a lot of climbing. The office entrance is right in front of the stairs, with another guard at the entrance. I headed towards the office and signaled the guard to open the door. He stood up and proceeded to open the gate, by swiping his id in the card reader. The card reader beeped and opened the glass door. The guard then sat down and started fiddling with his phone. I proceeded to enter the office, but was stopped by the guard.
“Wait a minute. Who are you? What is your business here? Is it your first time here?” The guard bombarded me with questions. Well it did seem odd that he had let me through without asking me anything. Such a lousy guard he is.
“I am here to see a person named Naman don’t know his full na-” The guard interrupted me and went inside the office. After 5 minutes he comes back and tells me to go inside and points at a cubicle while staying silent. I went straight towards the cubicle, without thinking much, but no one is present in the cubicle. I turned around and could see some people working in their cubicles, but thought not to disturb them, but just standing there and doing nothing felt really awkward for me. Maybe waiting for Sam outside would have been a better idea. While I am pondering over these thoughts, a hand tapped my shoulders from behind.
“You are Shyan right” A voice spoke from behind. I turned towards the person to look who it is. A middle age guy, stood in front of me with a welcoming face. He must be the guy Sam told me about.
“And you must be Naman, Nice to meet you” I pushed over my right hand for a handshake. Looking closely at Naman, I could guess that his height is near 5’10. He is a relatively brown looking guy, with a really great trim on his beard. In future I would hope that I could get that kind of trimmed beard. He the politely asked me to take a chair and sit down.
He offered me some coffee and cookies, which I would have refused generally, but with me coming straight to the office from my bed did make me a little hungry. The coffee from the coffee machine tasted very bland though. He told me to drink the coffee and wait for 5 minutes, as he had to help a colleague of his. I looked around the office to distract myself, but all I could see were cubicles in the hindsight. My future jobs could also lead me to an office like this. That kind of future did not look bright at all. I finished my coffee and stood up to throw the cup and wrappers in the trash can which is near the entry. As I threw the wrapper and the disposable cup, I saw a familiar face heading towards the office. On a closer look, I saw Sam having a conversation with the guard. Then the guard opened the gate and pointed towards the same cubicle where I was seated a few moments ago. Sam entered the office and saw me staring at him.
“Well you are quite early” Sam said.
“You are just late by 1 hour” I replied as we walked towards Naman’s cubicle.
“Would have been here 10 minutes early if the emergency lift came early” Sam said adding salt on my fresh wounds from that 11 floor climb.
“Where the hell is he?” Sam asked me as we sat down the chairs.
“He has gone to help his colleague.” I replied.
“Hurry up, will he. There’s F1 on TV at 6 and I have one more work to do also” Sam mumbled to himself.
After another 5 minutes Naman came towards us and greeted Sam. He then took a seat with us and looked kind of fidgety.
“Aren’t you early” Naman’s sarcasm drooled out of his words.
“Let’s not waste anymore time then and get on with work shall we.” Sam said in a calm and straightforward way.
“Sure, so Shyan” Naman turned his attention towards me. “According to the gist of your novel, we came up with some book covers you may like, 4 to be precise.” He said and started to fiddle with something on his laptop.
“What do you mean by ‘we’, did Sam help you too? Didn’t know he is good at graphic designing” I enquired
“No, it is my colleague, who helped me. She is actually a book worm and was esthetic when I mentioned about it. She made the 2 posters out of the four. Let me call her, one second” Naman stood up to call her. While I started imagining on how I wanted my book cover to look like, I noticed a small sly smile on Sam’s face, looks like he is amused by something.
“Here meet Kanika, she is the one I told you about earlier” Naman introduced Kanika to us. Well Kanika may sound like an average name, but boy there is there nothing average about her looks. She is the real example of a 5’6 lady of perfection. I must say that she her lips and eyes structure made her face look so good. The professional office attire with the skirt really suited her. She also had a very well maintained body. She looks like she is in her mid-twenties and I feel somewhat flattered to have such a beautiful lady have design my book cover, without even paying her. Just putting her face on the book cover, would let my book sell like hot cakes.
“So you are the one who wants to get famous through your novels.” Kanika shook my hands, but what I noticed is that she started with the same words that Sam said to me when I met him first. I looked at towards Sam to stare at him, to say that ‘Becoming famous’ is not my tagline or slogan, but his eyes were transfixed in his phone and he did not looked towards me.
“Well nothing like that, my teacher provided the idea and I just grasped the opportunity.” I told the partial truth. It is kind of embarrassing to tell that I wrote a book in hope of getting famous and meeting Melanie.
“You know I would love to read your book.” She told me and I nodded. Well she did design the cover for free after all.
“Well now we all are here and done with the intros and stuff. Can the kid see the covers?” Sam said in a subtle irritated voice.
“Here I have them right here. Which one should I show him first?” Naman showed the screen to Kanika and Kanika pointed her finger at the laptop screen. Meanwhile I am just waiting for them to select fast, as I am sitting opposite the laptop and could not even see one pixel of the display. Finally after 2 minutes of chit-chat they decided on one and turned the screen. Finally I am able to take a glimpse of my future book cover and boy did the cover blow my mind. The first one has a great manga type drawing of an old guy, with a great contrast of red and orange thrown in the mix. The first poster is kind of aggressive with the red and orange.
“Where did you get this picture for the cover? This captures the physical aspects of the character in the book very precisely.” Indeed, this portrayal of the character is too perfect and to find this kind of image is next to impossible.
“What do you mean by ‘where did I get this picture from’? I made the design myself.” Kanika said with some pride. Well she should feel good about it because this work is really professional and original.
“There is a reason, I choose her for this job. Got to know that, she is a great artist from my friend.” As Naman spoke this line, I could not help but notice a small smile on Sam’s face. It is the 2nd time I have noticed a smile on his face for absolutely no reason. I don’t know what is amusing him in this situation at all.
“Yeah, this request came out as a surprise, as I did not knew Naman very well, but I like reading books and my your summary of the story intrigued me a lot and Naman has offered me a treat for coming today. So all in all a win-win situation for me” Kanika said enthusiastically, while Sam now put his hand in front of his mouth to control his laughter. Now Even I am starting to understand what is going on here.
I looked at the other 3 options, but my soul has chosen the first option as my book cover. I did not even considered the other 3 to be any sort of competition, but I needed other color combination with the first combination, as the first one looked a little too aggressive for my liking.
“I knew you would like the first one. It took the most time to make after all, but I choose these aggressive colors because I thought the novel would be fast paced by going by the summary. It seems like a book cannot be unraveled by only reading the summary.” Kanika admitted after I said my dilemma to her. She then looked for more passive colors to change with the present ones. After about 6-7 color combo, I settled with the more soothing light blue sprinkled with some yellow and the cover Looked exactly I wanted it to be.
Kanika mailed me and Sam the final copy of the cover. With this the work is finally over and now is the time to head back home. I thanked Kanika and Naman for their work and kindness shown towards me.
“Hey why don’t you join us, Naman is treating me anyway. We could all grab a bite.” Kanika suggested, as me and Sam were about to leave.
“Thanks for the offer , but I got to go, my cab is waiting downstairs and Sam is also in a hurry. Will surely gift you a hard copy of my book, when we compile everything together. Thanks again” I quickly said this and left the office with Sam. I then pressed the down button on the lift, but Sam tapped my shoulder and pointed towards the fire exit. I remembered that the main lift is down and that the backup lift is located at the back. Sam pressed the down button of the other lift and we boarded the lift. Till that point not a single word has been spoken between me and Sam.
“Why do I feel Naman used my book, for his other plans” I finally broke the silence as lift passed the 8th floor. Sam just broke into a laugh.
“Boy, I did not expect this plan to work. When did you figure it out?”
“Being in office on a Sunday and getting help for my cover from a beauty like her is enough information to deduce this much.” While Sam is cheerful about this situation, I am a little irritated by it. It is not the fact that it is me who Naman used for his plan, but it is the fact that, if given the chance. I would have loved to go out with Kanika, even if it is only a friendly treat. God I needed to be 6-8 years older to have a chance with her. Not that I have forgotten Melanie or anything, it’s just that my teenage hormones are playing games with me right now.
“Even you know that she is out of Naman’s league” I spoke what my mind thought at the moment, while it does sound a little rude towards Naman, but truth is always bitter or in this case a little rude.
“Why do you think I have been laughing from the start?”
The lift stopped at the ground floor and we got off it. We then exited the building passing by the same guard I encountered at the beginning and guess what? He is still sitting in the same stance as I saw him earlier. Salute to his dedication towards the game, but not a big fan of him ignoring me earlier.
“Let’s see if someone takes an interest in your work or not. At least the cover looks great.” Sam hopped on his bike and turned the engine on.
“Hope to hear some good news soon. Well I got to learn one thing today, that’s for sure”
“What did you learn?”
“I learnt that Naman does not has a chance with Kanika” and with this Sam whizzed past me with a small smile on his face.
[CHAPTER-13] — FINALLY
Another month passed by and no news good came from Sam. I have literally given up at this point and to add to my miseries, my board results are due tomorrow. Now, unlike pre boards, I had completely given my all in these exams and expected a decent result. A 90% is good enough for me, though I told my parents tales of 95%. Generally Indian or on a larger scale Asian parents are not that marks oriented in my opinion. It’s the society that just pressurizes them into thinking that without marks your child has no future and every parent in this world wants his child to be successful in future.
In the mean time, I had called Sam for updates on novel and Kanika. It turns out Kanika got herself a new boyfriend and guess what? It is not Naman. All the efforts he made gone in the drain, but at least I got my cover for free though.
Having gone through all my university registrations and exam, the free time on my hands right now is immeasurable. I just want to forget about my upcoming board results and wanted to relax a bit and what better way to relax, than to see your favorite person’s movie. Yes, a movie by the name ‘Coastline’ just released this month with Melanie starring at it. She is in a supporting role in this movie and not the lead role though. Anyways it is a suspense thriller type movie of an hour and forty minutes. I made myself comfortable in my cozy bed and took my laptop to search the torrent link of the movie. Just 10 minutes in and I got the HD print of the movie. Thank god for the invention of torrents. The 1.05 GB movie just finished downloading in 25 minutes. I then took my pillow behind my head and the laptop in my lap. Got myself some snacks from the kitchen and a glass of coke from the fridge. Looks like I am all set for the movie as I clicked the play button and lay back towards the bed. The intro soon ended and the movie began with the main character making out with a girl. The movie plot progressed very fast, with a series of murders scenes and finally Melanie made her first appearance as a girl who witnessed all the murders in front of her, but is not killed by the murderer. The interest in my movie is increasing every minute and proportionally my snacks were decreasing every minute. Suddenly my phone rings between a crucial scene in the movie, so I picked up the phone without pausing the movie.
“Hello Shyan, finally we are moving forward.” it is Sam on the other side.
“What do you mean? He is interrogating the wrong person. The murderer is someone else.” I just blurted out what I thought in an instant, only to realize that Sam is probably not talking about the movie.
“What?” Sam said in a confused tone.
“Hello, hello? Sam, you there?” I started acting like he is not audible. We have all been in these types of situations, where you just act like the other person is not audible to hide your stupidity.
Sam disconnected the call and redialed me again.
“Hello Sam” This time I start the conversation first.
“Hello, am I audible now?” Sam enquired.
“Yes, you are. I was not able to hear you on the previous call” I lied with perfection.
“No worries. As I was saying earlier” Sam paused a bit “We have got a publisher, who is kind of interested in your book” Sam said in a very pessimistic tone.
“You don’t sound that convinced about it?”
“Well, actually the publishing house is well established and is great news for us, but the deal they are offering is very unappealing.”
“What is the deal they are offering?”
“Let me be very honest with you Shyan, your book got their attention because they did not want to make the same mistake again”
“I am not getting what you are trying to say.” Now I am getting a little bit confused with this whole situation.
“You see, a book similar to your case had come to their publishing house and they rejected it. Fun Fact that book they rejected became very popular among the people and sold about 10 million copies.”
“So, they are just covering their past mistakes and don’t want to miss their chance of a fortune.”
“That pretty much sums it up.”
“What are they offering?” I asked.
“Well they are asking for no royalties until 5000 hard cover books are sold and 5% royalty for every book sold afterwards.” the equation Sam put forward is preposterous and ridiculous, but money is not my motive anyway.
“Anything else they offer?” I asked.
“Well they said that they would consider giving your book as a nominee for the annual awards, to get the best debut awards. Other than that nothing much.”
“Is this publishing house any good?”
“They are pretty decent. At least they would do some kind of marketing for our book and they will launch it in India, USA and UK. The rest is up to you” Sam gave the ultimatum. I think I need to think for this for a day or two.
“Let’s go for it then” while my brain wanted to think about it, my heart screamed just do it.
“I will forward the mails to you and will come with the contract for the distribution and royalty of the book this week.” Sam said and disconnected the phone.
I took a deep breath and gave it a thought about it. The deal is very bad, but I am not after the money anyway. If they give me a chance, then what is the problem with less money, but a little better royalty percent would have been good. My thoughts pondered over these thoughts, I just shrugged these thoughts and moved my eyes towards the laptop to see what is happening in the movie. Apparently Melanie committed suicide by hanging herself because she could not take the pressure of seeing those murders and the constant interrogation just pushed her over the edge. This may be a sign that I am making a mistake by hurrying it, but I just surrendered on this topic after 15 minutes and went back to the movie.
“Wake up son, it’s already 11 in the morning.” My dad woke me up and slid the curtain sideways to let the sunlight penetrate my room. It is rare for my dad to wake me up like this, usually it is my mom who scrambles my dreams in the morning.
“Your board results are due today na? Get ready and let’s check your result together.” my dad spoke and got out of the room. This clears the reason of him coming and waking me up.
I got down from my bed and went straight to the living room. Everybody in the house is wide and awake, with my brother sitting on the sofa with dad and typing something his laptop, which in my guess is most probably the site where my result will be declared. My mom is praying to the gods for my marks, like the god can now change the marks today, which were uploaded way before today and Shiro as always just wants to go for a walk whenever he gets a chance.
I return to my room and went towards the bath room for a quick shower. Took my clothes off and turned the knob right for the heavenly hot water, but I forgot that before happiness comes sadness and now I am gushed with sadness on my body in the form of cold water. My body automatically retracted away from the shower. Here I am naked in my bathroom waiting for my shower to spit some hot water. Sometimes I wonder, does this just happen with me or with everyone else also? This question for most of the time has been confined to me, until the day when a bathroom conversation pops up and I slid in this dilemma to other people.
I closed the knob after satisfying my head in the hot water and changed my clothes in the room. With my fresh mind, I once again went to the living room to see if something has changed. As I approached the living room, my mother came towards me and filled my mouth with gulab jamnun and went on her way to give my dad a piece.
“Whaz ik th-” The gulab jamun in my mouth just played with the words I am speaking.
“What happened, did I just top my exam all over India?” Words finally came out right after I gulped down the sweet.
“Getting the highest marks in your own class would be a miracle, what you just suggested is more towards ‘mission impossible’ field.” Sarcasm oozed out of my brother, which means that I have scored more marks than him in the board exams. My brother scored 84% 3 years ago in his boards, which means I have scored a minimum of 85%.
“How much have I even scored?”
“89%, it is a wonderful result” My mother said cheerfully and wrapped her hands around me.
“It is alright, expected a little more.” my dad intervened.
“Even if I had scored 99%, you would have complained about it.” These were the words that my mind thought of.
“Next time, will try harder.” Were the words that came out of my mouth. You really need to filter your words considerably if it is your father standing in front you.
I took my phone out, to check up on my friends on their results. Anubhav as usual got better marks than me, Karthik flunked in maths and Aaryan got the highest marks in maths out of all the students in the school and got average marks in the rest of the subject.
My mother suddenly tapped my shoulder and gave me the phone.
“Talk to your relative from Bangalore.”
“The one who used to give you 5 star chocolate when you were 5, don’t you remember?” the confidence my mother has on my memory is mind boggling.
“Hello, how are you?” I just went with the flow, without knowing who is on the other end.
“Well done my child, congratulation on the result.” A woman spoke.
“Do you even remember me?”
“Yes aunty, you would always give me the 5 star chocolate” That’s right, just process the information given to you and apply it in the right situation. That is my secret
“But, I used to give you gems not 5 star.” Aunty said while giggling on the phone. Curses to the wrong information fed by my mom, just forget about the secret I just told above.
“I remember very well” lying about common stuff has become second nature to me.
Now came the awkward silence part, where they don’t know what to talk about and I on the other hand don’t even know whom I am talking with.
“How is the weather there?” I said this and looked at my mother, signaling her about my predicament.
“The weather is nice here. What about there?”
“It’s a little warm here” Another awkward silence crept in after I said this. It just shoots up my anxiety and later it turns into some sort of regret.
“Give the phone to your mother.” These words were like violin to my ears. I quickly gave the phone to my mother and dashed towards my room before someone hands me another call. Peace achieved finally.
Finally after 10 minutes, the commotion in the living room subsided as I just lay in the bed and chatted with my friends for a while. As I subdued Aaryan on his achievements on the chat, a new message popped up in the feed. I opened it and it is from Sam.
“So how is it going” Was the text he send me.
“Going good, got 89% and I am happy” I texted back.
“Where in the lord’s name is 89% mentioned in the contract” The word contract reminded of the yesterday, which I had completely forgot about. This time I can’t even make any excuses.
“Let me guess, you have not even read a single line in the contract.” Well I have not even opened the mail, but who is going to tell him.
“Give me another day, will surely get back to you.” I send this and immediately turned my laptop in on and checked my mail. In the midst of 20-30 ads, I finally found the mail and downloaded the pdf attached to it.
“Come on, it should not that be that hard.” this message popped up on my phone. Sam looks in somewhat of a hurry. I will reply to this after I have read the pdf. How difficult can it be anyway?
I opened the pdf and I take my words about the easiness of this pdf back. The pdf is 30 pages long, which is fine, but it is the vocabulary which threw me off. For example, the word ‘force majeure’. I do not know what this means in the context. It looked like I am reading English with completely different rules of grammar. Luckily in this era, we have services of google to solve our doubts or copy paste the knowledge and present it to your school, like it is your work.
Anyways, coming back to the clauses in the contract, the company offers me no upfront payment for my book. I will get 5% royalty for my books, but my book has to sell 1000 books before I start getting my royalty. All the publishing rights would be theirs, I will have no say on the way they conduct their business and I can’t even give my friends and families the book to read for free. To add icing on the cherry, if my book is a commercial book, then the second book which I write will also be published by them with the same contract. This looks more like a prison term paper than a contract to be honest. Well that’s the best I have got and there is no turning back now.
I spent all evening making notes and revisions on some provisions I want to change in the contract. Finally around 8PM I was finished and ready to present my side of understanding to Sam. I finally replied to his message and wrote down my changes I want in the chat, but now it is Sam’s turn to ignore my messages.
Finally his reply came after 12 hours.
“Is this all the changes you want?”
“Ok, will send you the final details once everything is finalized” He wrote this message and went offline.
[CHAPTER-14] — I DON’T KNOW
6 months have passed away since that day. My new life as a college student has started, my old school is now somewhat of a distant memory, New campus, new teachers, new friends and a new life. Everything seems so different from my school life, except my desire to meet Melanie. This is the only thing which is not new on my agenda.
Let me tell you what happened in these past 6 months. It took one month for putting pen to paper of the contract. Then It took two more months for the final print copy to be decided. Heavy changes were made by their experts for the final print version and finally after another 1 more month, my book finally hit the stores and online platforms. I think I may be the first one who ordered the book. I bought it immediately from Amazon, as I wanted a paperback for my personal satisfaction.
Holding your own book in your hand feels so good, maybe even better than eating your favorite food. I may have purchased the book, but I did not read it. Reading my own work kind of gives me a anxiety rush.
Everything went according to plan till this point, but after the release, the response from the audience was very low. Not many people bought my book and those few who bought, didn’t even left a review. I do not even know if my book is good or bad. The publishing house did not send my book to any critic for reviews and audience is not giving any noticeable response, which is not a good sign. Sam just said that it happens all the time in this industry, more people fail at this level than succeed. I absolutely get that, but what am I supposed to do now. I am out of ideas now, meeting Melanie now seems more distant than ever.
I started enjoying my college life, making new friends and doing new shenanigans, but at the back of my mind still lay the frustration from this endeavor.
I guess it wouldn’t even matter much if I make it big, it’s not like writers and actors hang out all the time anyway. The only thing I do not feel at this moment is regret, I do not regret my actions at all. I gave it a try and it did not pay off. Will try again in future, maybe it will work or it may not, but I will give it a go anyways.
“Let’s bunk this class man, system programming class is very boring” I said 30 minutes before the class starts. Three months have passed since I joined the college and I am enjoying the freedom that college life offers me.
I and my other two friends sat in the canteen enjoying our pasta and drinks. Seemed like a normal day, until my phone rang. It’s none other than Sam.
“Hello Sam, How are you?” I started the conversation very politely.
“Eh, I am good” Sam answered after a definite pause. Maybe he is checking whether he has called the right person or not.
“So, what sad figures will you tell me this time?” Sam does message me or mail me the month wise report of the book sales and the audience response. All the figures he sends me were pathetic and demoralizing.
“Ouch, hurts when you say it like that”
“If it’s not about the figures, then why have you called me?” I said with a dejected voice.
“This may cheer you up, do you remember the clause in the contract, where they would send your book as a nominee for the writers award.” Yes I remember this clause because this clause was dangling in the last line of the last page of ‘clause’ section, much like the sad tomato slices which dangles from the burger. The tomato slice in the burger are so depressing, that it actually escapes the burger whenever someone lifts the burger of eating.
“Yes I remember the sad little line which looked like just a joke written on the last page.”
“Yes that one. They send your book and you have won an award. Congrats Man.” Sam said in a enthusiastic voice.
“Wait a minute, which award show is this anyway?” I said with a skeptical voice.
“VS stories awards, they give different awards to different writers from India based on the stories and genres.”
“So which award have I won?”
“‘Out of the box story of the year’. Man it’s been almost 5 years since my client has got an award.”
“How did they even select my book, there must have been thousands of book to segregate from. My book is not even that famous.”
“I asked someone who manages all the awards nomination. Actually the head of the committee read your book and actually liked the idea so much that he directly placed your book in the top 10 nominee for this award and heavily pushed your book to win this award” Sam explained.
“That’s very convenient for me. What is the name of the head?”
“Someone named Mr. Shashank.”
“Well that’s not someone I know of. Why would he do this for me?”
“I don’t know, all I know is that you have just won a great award for your work and you have to come to Mumbai next week to receive the award.”
“What? Can’t they just parcel the award to my home?”
“You are joking right, not many get this award. You are definitely coming to Mumbai, consider it as my fees for the book. Come on do it for my sake. I will meet some new people and as your agent, my credibility will also rise due to the award. So, please come to Mumbai and take the damn award.” Sam said in an adamant tone. Looks like he needs the award more than I do.
“Ok, calm down man. I will come to Mumbai.”
“Oh, by the way, prepare a speech to say on the stage.”
“Whom am I going to come with Mumbai? I don’t want to tell my parents about the novel and the award, plus they don’t know you. They will not send me alone in any case.” I put my dilemma forward.
“You can come with Reyansh. I am sure your parents would know him”
“And what would I say to my parents when they ask me why I am going to Mumbai?”
“I don’t know, just figure something out. I can’t answer everything for you.”
“Ok, will figure something out”
“Yes man, vega- I mean Mumbai is on” Sam said and disconnected the call.
My friends just sat there transfixed in my conversation, looking like complete imbeciles to be honest.
“Who was that?” Asked my friend
“Someone from the past, the past which still calls me back to my desires.” with these cheesy lines we went back to attend the next lecture.
“What am I supposed to tell your parents?” Reyansh sir started with the exact same question I had when I asked Sam on what to tell my parents.
“Sam says that you would have an answer.”
“You both will kill me someday. He says to ask you about this and you come up with the wise notion that I would know on what to do.” Reyansh sir is not at all in a good mood and I don’t blame him.
“I need something to tell your parents, do you have any idea?” Reyansh sir now started brain storming for ideas.
“Tell my parents, that you are organizing a special farewell trip for the students” I confessed my master plan.
“Great idea, you come back from Mumbai with a solid literature award in a supposedly farewell trip. You are a writer and a creative person, just imagine how confusing that situation would be.” Reyansh sir made his logical views clear with some sarcasm in his voice.
“Well what to do now?”
“Just tell your parents about the book, they will not kill you for it”
“I will tell them after this award. If they know about the award now, they would tag along with me, which I don’t want.”
“Do you have any other brilliant plan?” Reyansh sir again insisted me to get another idea out of my tambora box.
“You can tell them that you are taking me and some other students for a poetry writing competition. How’s that for an idea.” I said with pride in my voice.
“Ah, we can do that, but do you really believe that in real life you could have won the competition?”
“I have won something already, haven’t I?”
“This will not work, don’t we have other options.”
“Well I am out of options, if you have any better ideas, then please do tell” I gave the baton to back Reyansh sir.
“Not at the moment.”
“Well in that case, my excuse will be used unless you can come up with something better in the next few days.”
“Okay, I know that I can find something better than this.” Reyansh sir said with confidence.
“You really think you can come with something better.”
“Are you doubting me, there is a reason I am your teacher and you are my student.” With this Reyansh sir disconnected the call.
[CHAPTER-15] — VEGA-, AHEM MUMBAI HERE WE COME
“Have you packed you toothbrush?”
“Yes mom, I have.”
“Taken your documents and phone charger?’
“Yes mom, I have taken everything. Could we stop now?” I finally said in an irritated way, Indian moms can be so over protective sometimes.
I took my trolley bag to the living room and sat on the sofa, waiting for Reyansh sir to arrive. Our flight departure time is 3 hours from now and with the airport being only 40 minutes away from my home, I am in a no panic mode.
I was about to call Reyansh sir to check up on his whereabouts, when suddenly the house bell rang. I am pretty sure it is Reyansh sir. My mother opened the door and called me, as indeed it is Reyansh sir. I took my trolley bag and walked towards the front entrance.
“So, what is this competition about?” I heard my mom asking some questions from sir as I approached the entrance door.
“It’s a free for all entry writing competition. I guessed it would be a good experience for shyan, as he is a wonderful writer.” Reyansh sir replied and helped me with my bag. I just could not help but let a small laugh pass through my mouth. I just could not help remember him priding about being my teacher and getting a better excuse. But here we are, with the same excuse he rejected. Reyansh sir noticed my smile and just turned his eyes away.
“Ok, Shyan go and win the competition and be careful” These were the last words from my mom before we leave.
“He has already won” Reyansh sir said in a soft tone, but my mother heard some of it.
“What?” My mother reacted on Reyansh sir’s words.
“Aren’t we getting late for our flight?” I diverted the topic and hurriedly snatched my bag from sir and went towards the taxi parked outside. Reyansh sir followed the cue and sat inside the taxi. I waved my hand towards my mother and told the taxi driver to start driving. He obliged and soon my house went out of sight.
“Not cool sir, you almost blew it back there” I started the conversation after a little while.
“I blew it back there, what about that smile you had there?” He retaliated.
“Who was the one, who spoke all that gaga over that he could find a better idea and that there is a reason he is my teacher for some reason. Sorry for laughing at something that’s funny” I took the dominating position in the conversation.
“Whatever. Tell me one thing, why are we going in a taxi, when I could bring my car. My brother could have taken the car home from airport? Why are we paying 700 rupees here?” Reyansh sir changed the topic. Tragic moments were replayed in my brain when he mentioned about his car. I still get nightmares in the night when I remember his driving in the night.
“Sir, what is more valuable. My life or 700 rupees?’ I questioned him.
“You are more valuable” He replied.
“There you have got your answer” I said. Meanwhile the driver is constantly looking back with the help of the mirror, may be because our conversation is somewhat suspicious and we have mentioned that we did not need his taxi for going to airport. This may have hurt him. So, for the rest of the journey, I did not utter a single word.
Finally the taxi came to a halt and I could see the front entrance of the airport. We came out of the taxi and took our luggage out from the trunk. We paid the driver and off went the taxi in the crowd of cars.
“Sam just messaged me. He will be late by 30 minutes. We will go in after he comes” Reyansh sir fiddled with the side pocket of the bag pack. He then proceeds to take out a pack of cigarettes and lighter. He pops one in his mouth, lights it with the lighter and takes a puff. He then proceeds to offer me one. I too took one from the packet and gestured him to give him the lighter.
“You know that I was offering you as a joke?” Reyansh sir said with firm tone and his eyes gazed on me. He withdrew the lighter from my sight.
“I didn’t take it as a joke.” I showed him my unlit cigarette and told him to light it with my eyes. He obliged with some hesitation.
“Didn’t know you smoked?” Reyansh sir calmed down after smoking half the cigarette.
“Let me ask you, when did you start smoking?” I counter questioned.
“In which standard am I in the school?”
“You are a college student and not school student idiot.” Reyansh sir sprouted his response in a second.
“Exactly my point” I trapped him in his own words.
“Wait a minute?” Realization struck him at last. I continued to smoke my cigarette, as he put together the puzzle I put in front of him.
“You always manage to put your words in my mouth” He finally gives up and completes his last puff. He then proceeds to take out his phone and call Sam.
“He is still 15 minutes away from the airport. Let’s find a café to sit in” Reyansh sir said and turned his head to find a café. After searching for 2 minutes, he points towards the starbucks which is just at the side of the front entrance.
We went towards the semi open café, which is brimming with customers. All the seats were taken and the counter is full of customer ordering something.
“We have no luck” I said with dismay in my voice.
“Look, there are 2 empty chairs on that table, let’s ask for those and sit on those.” Reyansh sir pointed towards a table where a man and a foreign woman were sitting. We took our luggage and went towards that table.
“Excuse me are these seats taken?” I asked the foreign Asian woman.
“No, these are not taken, you can take them.” the man said in a familiar voice. I turned my head to look at the man. My eyes could not believe who I am seeing. The man too turned and looked at me. He too could not believe who he is seeing. I quickly took the seat and sat beside him on the same table.
“What are you doing Shyan? We cannot on this table. It is already occupied.” I just turned Reyansh sir’s head using my hand to let him see the man’s face. He too took the other seat and sat on the other chair.
“Excuse me? Do you know him?” The Asian woman spoke in Asiatic broken English, from the look of her, she appeared to be from south east Asia. She looked like she is in her late twenties. She looked like she is as tall as me and had a great athletic type of body. She had short hairs which really suited her baby face. She also has dimples on her cheek, which made her look very cute. Damn if I were in Sam’s position I probably would have done the same thing.
“I think we are supposed to be a boarding a flight for Mumbai together in about 2 hours. Isn’t it right Sam? Won’t you introduce us to the pretty lady” I calmly said and what can Sam do now? He is caught red handed on the crime scene. Talk about misleading his friends for a woman.
“Oh, I didn’t know, nice to meet you. My name is Ryouka” She introduced herself in a more welcoming tone.
“I think she is Chinese?” Reyansh sir whispered to me.
“She could be Japanese” I added more options to the question.
“Could be Korean or she could even be from Malaysia.” Reyansh sir added two more options to the list.
“She is Japanese” Sam answered the question as all three of us nodded our heads in unison on knowing the answer, I don’t know why Sam nodded, because he already knew that she is Japanese. Ryouka just started laughing at us, seems like we were looking like complete imbeciles when we were nodding our heads.
“Hello my name is Reyansh and this is my student Shyan.” Reyansh sir took the honors of introducing himself and me.
“Your ex-student” I replied and extended my arm for a handshake.
“Cheesy little bastard” Reyansh sir whispered to himself, but he was loud enough for me to hear it.
“So, how do you know Sam, are you an old friend of his?” Reyansh sir asked the million dollar question.
“Oh no no, we just met in the metro. He was reading a book, which had a very good front page. So, I inquired about it. Then we just hit off and he kept me company until my flight.” Ryouka described her accidental meeting with Sam.
“Which book is she talking about?” Reyansh sir asked Sam.
“The book does not matter.” Sam suspiciously diverted the topic.
“Oh, it’s a book he wrote. He is even going to get an award for it in Mumbai.” Ryouka made everything clear.
“Are you talking about the one with the old man on the front page?” Reyansh sir asked her.
“Yeah, exactly that one.” Ryouka confirmed our suspicion.
“Yes, that one has indeed won an award.” I told her with some devious plans brewing in my mind.
My mind just told me to tell the truth at the spot, but Sam just poked at my thigh with his finger and gestured me with his hands folded to go on with this act. Even Reyansh sir saw the request and nodded his head.
“Do you know? The main character from the novel is inspired from real life.” I took control of the situation. Sam finally looked relieved and took a big sip of his coffee.
“Oh, that’s nice. So where is the guy who inspired him?” Ryouka asked me.
“He died, drank poison before cancer could kill him” I replied with a deep voice. Sam literally spat out his coffee from his mouth. Lucky for him that Ryouka didn’t see it. Both Reyansh sir and Sam looked grimly at me like I was the one who poisoned the old man.
“Oh, that’s so sad” Ryouka said in a depressing tone.
“What more did Sam told you” I wanted to know every lie he has spitted out of his mouth in front of Ryouka.
“Oh, nothing much, I too live in this city due to work and he offered to be the tour guide for me. I actually didn’t see much of the city at all in my last 6 months.” Ryouka said with a very cute accent, I may have fallen for her voice.
“He is a great tour guide, he does take his children on lovely long drives every weekend.” This time it was me and Sam looking at Reyansh sir as he spoke these lines.
“I didn’t know you had children” I whispered to Sam.
“What children you are talking about, I am not even married.” Sam whispered back to me.
“Aww, that’s so adorable. Do you have any photos of them?” Ryouka asked Sam.
“Off course, here I have some photos as well” Reyansh sir took out his phone and showed the phone to Ryouka.
“They are so cute” Ryouka was mesmerized by the photo.
“Here let me see” Sam took the phone from Ryouka to have a look himself. I too join in to take a sneak. I could see 2 kids, one of age 5 and one of age maybe 8 years playing in the park. I looked at Sam to see his reaction, he looked confused as hell. I then looked at Reyansh sir and could see a devious smile on his face. We sat for another half an hour there chit chatting, with Ryouka mostly asking about the children and Sam being told to go on with this façade or else his own lie would be exposed.
After 30 minutes Ryouka said her goodbye to us and went on her way to catch her flight.
“Whose fucking children are those?” Sam said in an irritated voice.
“They are my nephews, aren’t they cute.” Reyansh sir laughed whole heartedly.
“Well you reap what you sow” I finally concluded the discussion.
“Damn it, I didn’t even take her number.” Sam hung his head low.
“Well I did, aren’t I great?” I did ask for her number when they were busy ordering their coffee. I am somewhat of a hidden bastard.
“Just great, I thought all three of us lost, but knowing she gave you the number is more disheartening.” Sam said and picked up his bag.
“I know right” I too followed his lead.
“Looks like it’s time to go get our boarding pass” Reyansh sir lazily got up from his seat.
“I hope the air hostesses are friendly” Sam ignited a glimmer of hope for himself.
“Just don’t lie about my student’s work again, otherwise you are a married man with children for the air hostesses.” Reyansh sir said with a light threatening voice.
“Yeah, yeah, I got my lesson” Sam said as he put his bag on the conveyer belt for weighing.
Nothing much happened in the flight, as I dosed off as soon as the flight took off.
“Wake up Shyan, we have already landed” Reyansh sir tugged my shoulder to wake me up. I stretched my hands and looked outside through the window. The plane was halted at the tarmac and people were boarding the busses to go into the airport.
“But I didn’t even buckled my belt during landing, isn’t that unsafe?” I asked Sam.
“Are you dead?” Sam counter questioned me.
“I guess not” I replied as I ran my hand through my body, just to be sure.
“There you have your answer.” Sam said and joined the line going towards the exit.
We exited the plane and the first thing which hit me in Mumbai was the excessive humidity in the air. Literally you could sense the water vapors on your skin. We quickly went towards the luggage conveyer belt of our flight to collect our baggage. We saw almost 50 bags come through on the conveyer belt before Sam’s bag became visible. After another 5 minutes Reyansh sir’s bag came and after another 2 minutes, my trolley bag came.
We then took a prepaid taxi from the taxi booth and went to our hotel. We have arrived in Mumbai the day before the award show. The award show will be 2 days long, with my award being presented to me on the second day. Sounds ridiculous, but they host the big awards on the first day and the other small awards are given on day 2. This means that we will have the whole day tomorrow for sightseeing, but why not start today?
“Let’s go and visit the Gate way of India, it’s just some 5 kilometers from here” I immediately announced my intentions as soon as we entered the room.
“You can go on your own, I am tired.” Sam laid himself on the bed and turned on the tv.
“The opposite would have been said, if Ryouka would have asked.” Reyansh sir butted in.
“You are absolutely right.” Sam gave his ultimatum and hided himself under the blanket.
“Very good, I have videoed this conversation. I am sending it to you Shyan. If Sam does not get out of the blanket in 20 seconds, send it to Ryouka.” Reyansh sir cheekily trapped Sam.
“You are bluffing” Sam is still reluctant to get out of his blanket.
“Nice camera you got there sir.” I said loudly for Sam to hear as I played the video at full volume. Sam quickly sprang out of his bed, as soon as he heard the words spoken by him a couple of minutes ago.
“Who is up for Gate way of India tour?” Sam cheerfully put on his jacket and opened the front door for us. I just saluted Reyansh sir for his idea.
We spend the next 3 hours exploring the Gate way of India. It’s a magnificent piece of monument with great history. I even took a selfie for my profile picture. We then located some food stalls selling street food and boy was the fragrance of food coming from there mouthwatering. We ate some delicious Pav Bhaji, which came with a shitload of butter and finished it off with falooda (ice-cream shake with different flavors). After eating, we went back to hotel and lay on our respective beds as we were drowsy from the Pav bhaji.
I took out my phone to check on the latest news, as I was not accustomed with sleeping at night without playing with my phone for an hour. About 10 minutes later a message pops up in my notifications.
I opened the chat to see who it is. I could not believe my eyes as it is Ryouka messaging me at midnight.
“Hey” I replied back with composure.
“I see you are already roaming the city” She took a hint from my profile picture.
“Yeah, you should see the Gate way of India. It’s huge.” The chat soon took off from here. With her explaining how she knows nobody here and that work keeps her so much busy.
“Go to sleep Shyan, aren’t you tired?” Sam woke up from his sleep.
“I will sleep in 10 minutes, just chatting with someone.” I deliberately added the chatting line.
“Who are you chatting with?” The prey takes the bait.
“With Ryouka-” Even before I could finish the sentence, Sam jumped out of his bed and slid into my bed. He then adjusted my hand so that the mobile screen could be visible to him too.
“What about sleep?” I asked him.
“We sleep every day. You don’t fear about sleep, just keep your typing speed high.” Sam looked quite energetic.
“Well then, I have got to sleep, have to wake up early. Good night” Ryouka messaged as soon as Sam started to take charge of the conversation.
“Good night” I replied back and turned off the phone.
“That’s it?” Sam is disappointed, because he joined in like just a minute ago.
“Yes, aren’t you tired?” I cheekily repeated Sam’s previous sentence and connected my phone for charging. Sam went back to his bed with a disappointing face.
After a good night of sleep, I and Reyansh sir finally woke up at 8 while Sam still slept on his bed like a panda. Me and Reyansh sir freshened up in the bathroom and went down the hotel to get the free complimentary breakfast. The buffet is completely loaded with lots of dishes. I went for all the dishes, while Reyansh sir stuck with cornflakes and poha(Spiced rice flakes).
“Jesus, relax Shyan. We will get food later too.” Reyansh sir is astonished on seeing my plate packed with different dishes.
“Not to worry, everything will be fine” I took my first bite of my sandwich.
We then went to our room, to discuss on where to go. We entered the room to find Sam with utmost dedication, still sleeping in the same position as we left him.
“Wake up, we are leaving for the Marine drive.” Reyansh sir tapped Sam violently to wake him up.
“You go ahead, I will attend the first day of the awards. I want to see, who will be the chief guest to present the awards.” Sam said in a drowsy tone.
“Don’t you know who will come already?” I asked him.
“Well, they announce the chief guest on the day of awards, just to create suspense” Sam said.
“Just don’t go and start flirting with random people” Reyansh sir took a dig at Sam.
“How long are you going to hold onto that incident?”
“Till the end of time”
“Is that so? good job honey.” Sam said and gave a flying kiss to Reyansh sir from his bed.
“Let’s get out of here” Reyansh sir said in a flustered tone. Maybe the flying kiss shook him from inside.
I and Reyansh sir spend the rest of the day, travelling to different places like Juhu beach, marine drive and many more. It is really a different experience all together. Very different from my city, well the only awkward thing I noticed were the amount of couples in the marine drive roaming and kissing. It’s just that having Reyansh sir with me, made me feel like out of p1ace. I would love to come here again with a girlfriend and not Reyansh sir. Maybe Reyansh sir has the same thoughts.
Well other than sightseeing, we also ate the famous pomfret fish. It was light, crisp and delicious beyond believe. We also went to take a look at the Taj hotel, which was under attack on 26/11 terror attack. I was only 8 years old when the attack happened, but I still remember sitting in front of the TV to see the devastating visuals of the terror attack.
We then returned to the hotel at about 8 to find Sam wearing his headphone and watching game of thrones in his laptop, with a crate of beer kept on top of the fridge.
“Let me guess, you have not even left this room whole day?” I deduced.
“You are wrong. I had to go outside to buy the beer” Sam said and stood up to get another beer.
“You could have come with us?” Reyansh sir asked him as he took a beer from the crate.
“Travelling is not my cup of tea” Sam said and opened a beer and handed it to me.
“Come on Sam, he is my student. I have a moral obligation to stop him from indulging in alcohol” Reyansh sir said with a sense of responsibility.
“Ex-student, if I may add. Just relax bro, it’s just a beer.” Sam said as we tapped our bottles and took our first sip.
“Well Sam, did you attend the awards show?” Reyansh sir asked.
“As a matter of fact I did.” Sam chugged down his bottle.
“So, who was the chief guest?” I butted in.
“The education minister of India” Sam opened another bottle.
“Well that’s good and a little boring at the same time” I said and finished my bottle. I then peeped into the fridge to see a final bottle of beer in the upper rack. I silently reached for it with my hands.
“I will only allow one beer, here give me that bottle” Reyansh sir said and snatched the bottle out of my hand.
“You just wanted the last beer?” Sam asked sir.
“Off course I did” Reyansh sir said as he took the first sip from the last beer bottle.
I just let them enjoy their beer and slid into my bed to doze off. The beer created a sort of warm feeling inside me which really helped me to sleep comfortably.
“Wake up man? it’s your day to shine” Reyansh sir said and removed my blanket.
“What time is it?” I asked with drowsy eyes.
“9 in the morning” Reyansh sir gave out a big yawn which made me more sleepy.
“The event starts at 2pm, let me sleep.” I said and pulled back my blanket.
“We have to reach there by 12” Reyansh sir said.
“But why?” I asked.
“I don’t know, maybe they have something to tell you before.” Reyansh sir said and went to the bathroom to take a bath.
The award is something I am grateful for on receiving it, but my sleep does takes precedence over it. I finally woke up at 11pm and went straight on to getting myself ready. Finally I got ready in 50 minutes.
“How can you be late today out of all days?” Sam said and picked up the hotel key and his wallet.
“Well Sam, in the many times we have met each other, I particularly remember you being late in each of them.” I said as I adjusted my coat.
“Yeah, yeah, I got your point. Now let’s go. Reyansh is waiting in the taxi for us.” Sam said and opened the door for me. I obliged and we exited the hotel to find Reyansh sir smoking outside the hotel.
“Where is the taxi? Sam asked him.
“He has gone to refill his fuel tank.” Reyansh sir replied.
“That’s just great.” Sam said and reached his hands for his front pocket. He too then took a cigarette out and started giving company to Reyansh sir. Well looking at them, they didn’t seem to be in any mood to share their cigarette. So I went to a road side vendor and bought a cigarette.
“So Shyan, have you prepared a small speech?”Reyansh sir asked me.
“No, will just thank my family and friends. You know, the usual stuff to talk about.” I replied.
“Hey, I have got some eye drops, just in case you want to show some emotions on the stage.” Sam butted in.
“I don’t think it is that emotional of an award to go through with tears in my eyes.” I replied.
“Where is that driver, we are already late. Looks like we will only reach the venue on time if I drive” Reyansh sir changed the topic.
“Please don’t, I value my life” Sam intervened.
“What’s wrong with my driving?” Reyansh sir asked.
“You know that cigarettes are harmful for your well being. Just multiply it with infinity and that is the amount of hazard your driving brings to the co-passengers.” I said. Reyansh sir just extinguished his half left cigarette after hearing me.
The taxi finally came and we were on our way to the venue. The car smelled heavily of deodorant as everybody inside it has put a different brand of deodorant and all those were mixing heavily. It is suffocating me a lot, I guess even the driver has put deodorant heavily. I opened the rear seat window to breathe some fresh air. Well that was not a good idea, because it messed up my hair completely. The gel I had put has not set completely and towards the end of the journey, one big lock of hair curled awkwardly from the right side of my head. The more troubling part is that the gel has completely dried off. It looked like somebody has glued my hair to look like this.
“You hair looks awful” Reyansh sir said and stroked my hair to make it look better. Well, it did not have much effect.
“Your hair looks like it has been washed with the lubricant often spurted out of young people.” Reyansh sir immediately withdrew his hand after listening to Sam.
“Just what I wanted to hear” I still played with my hair to make it better.
“Just go to the washroom and apply some water.” Sam said, as we entered the hall.
So following Sam’s words, I went to the washroom, which took me about 10 minutes to find. The venue is huge with different halls or theaters to conduct ceremonies or drama. I quickly went to the sink, wetted my hair on the right side with a splash of air and stroked my hair with my hand, but to no avail. I then went for the overkill and poured the water all over my hairs. That seemed to do the trick as my hair finally gave access to my hands to comb them, but now the problem is that my hair is too wet. I looked around to see if I could use something to dry my hair. Luckily I saw a hot air blower placed on the right side of the entrance door. I looked around to see if people were around or not. Seeing nobody close by, I put my hand towards the blower to activate it. Once activated, I would place my head under the hot air to dry my hair. I repeated this 2-3 times, with visible results, but as soon as I went for the 4th time, the front door of the washroom opened. An old man wearing a grey suit entered the washroom. I took drastic actions, to avoid him seeing me like that, but in the process I banged my head on the blower and the blower came out of its place. The guy looked at me to see an 18 year old guy pressed against the wall with this hands juggling with the blower. He just ignored me and went to a urinal to do his business.
I finally fixed the blower and decided to get out of there, but my bladder disagreed with me. I too then joined the old man on the adjacent urinal.
“Hey aren’t you Shyan.” The old man said after 10 seconds.
“Yes, do I know you?” I asked him.
“My name is Shashank Chaturvedi. Head of the committee for book selection” He replied. My mind suddenly realized who he is.
“Oh yeah, I think I have heard about you.” I hide the fact that I knew he was the one who selected my book.
“Really, oh by the way big fan of your work.” He said and finished his business.
My bladder emptied after 10 more seconds and we both again came side by side on the wash basin.
“You know I am curious on why my book got the award?” I could not hide my curiosity.
“Well your book was better than everybody else” He said and wiped his wet hands with tissue paper.
“We both know there were better books to choose from. My book did not even have decent sales or reviews to even consider it, so why?” I took the straight up approach to get my answer.
“I don’t know what you are talking about?” He said and began to leave the washroom.
“Let’s drop the act shall we. I know that you made my book win on purpose. I just need to know why?” I started to dominate the conversation.
“Well, don’t you remember me?” He asked me?
“Not really?” I said while thinking hard.
“Remember the surprise gathering you offered for that senile old fool” He said.
“You mean Nitish?” I asked.
“Yes. That bastard left even without saying goodbye.” He said with a angered tone.
“But, I don’t remember you seeing there?” I asked him.
“Yes I could not show up because of my works. The idiot took his revenge on me by his suicide.” He said and banged his hand on the blower. The blower which was already loose by my earlier head butt, now crashed down the floor with a loud bang.
“I don’t remember messaging you” I said. I didn’t even see his name on the list given to me.
“You did, Oh right, he saves my name with SSC. He has saved my name like that for 10 years now.” The words spoken by him made me remember one contact by this name.
“He was there when I needed money for my son’s operation, he told me that your son is my son.” He continued with his explanation, with his eyes getting a little wet.
“Yeah, he leaves a great impression of himself on you” I said as I too got a little emotion remembering the suicide note and the body.
“I just needed to repay him something for his kindness” He said.
“So you selected my book because I invited you for the gathering?” I asked him as he wiped his eyes.
“No, your book is selected because your protagonist was inspired from Nitish” He said.
“So it’s not because my book was great.” I asked him a final question.
“Your book is above average at best” He said and left. I just stood in front of the mirror analyzing on what has just happened. This conversation meant that I really did not achieve anything. Everything was served to me on a silver platter with the help of my friends. The realization dawned on me hard, I mean what is the point of writing a book and getting an award for it when my book does not even deserve it. Meeting Melanie is the first objective, but with this kind of work, not even in a million year would my dream come true.
“Shyan what are you doing, we have to go and have a chat with the supervisor.” Sam barged in to check on me. I broke my chain of thoughts, washed my face and faced Sam.
“Let’s go” I said after washing my face.
We entered the main theater where the awards were being presented. Reyansh sir spotted us entering and called us to the front, where a man in his thirties is talking to a bunch of people.
“What took you so long?” Reyansh sir said.
“Reality shackled me to the ground” I replied in a stone cold tone.
“Whatever, wait for 2 minutes. The head guy over there will brief you about something.” Reyansh sir said. After 5 minutes the head guy finally got free and came towards us.
“So, listen here. You will be called on the stage for receiving the award. You will have 2 minutes maximum for your speech. There is a mark there for you to stand on the stage for receiving the award. You have to look at the audience, more precisely the camera which will take the photo. And please no hassling or discomforting behavior towards the chief guest.” The guy talked like he has a flight to catch in the next 1- minutes. The only thing I could grasp from what he said was that I could not hassle the chief guest.
“Got it, I will treat the education minister with utmost respect” I assured him.
“Today’s chief guest is not the education minister.” He said and started shouting on the people who were setting up the stage.
“Then who will the chief guest then?” Sam asked. The man ignored him.
“Who cares, everything is a false sense of hope. We will see the reality in an hour anyway.” I threw another web of words with despair.
“Working on some new novel eh?” Sam asked. I just pretended that I did not hear him and sat on the middle row of the hall. They too then sat beside me on the chair. While the other 2 discussed something together beside me, I decided to doze off on my chair to free myself from my mind tormenting my soul.
“Shyan wake up” Reyansh sir tapped my shoulder vigorously.
“What Happened?” I asked with only my one eye wide open.
“The award show is about to start.” Sam said as he munched down on some chips.
“The pain does not end does it?” I said as I corrected my posture on the chair and rub my eyes to wake myself up. I saw the hall with every seat occupied and the cameras recording stuff at the front.
“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the 38th Vs stories award sponsored by Vs production.” The announcer with a crisp black suit spoke on the podium. Talk about sponsoring your own awards through your own company.
“As we know the first day of the awards were concluded yesterday with the blessings of the education minister of India, but today is about the awards given to the upcoming writers and today we have a very special personality with us. Any guesses?” The announcer created buzz for the chief guest. Many people shouted famous names of writers, actors, journalist etc.
“Well nice guesses, but not quiet there. Today is about the next generation and we present to you the leading upcoming actress from the west part of the world, famous for her work in dark and for her role in her newly released movie named “Coast line”. At the age of 16, she is looking to guide the cinema to the modern era through her marvelous acting, any ideas now friends?” The announcer once again asks the audience to guess the actress. Everybody got silent, nobody could guess the name, but I knew who it is instantly.
“Any guesses anyone?” The announcer again asked the audience.
“Melanie Scott!” I tried to shout, but a very half hearted voice came out. My brain just could not process what has just happened.
“Somebody spoke something from that side” The announcer looked at my side and the people around me looked at me with anticipation.
“MELANIE SCOTT” I shouted at my full voice due to the excitement and the anxiety caused by so many people looking at me.
“He is got the spirit and the right answer. Sheesh I thought that we were going to play the guess game forever. So ladies and gentlemen without further delays, let’s welcome Melanie to the stage.” The hall erupted with a huge round of applause after the announcer invited Melanie to the stage or it may have been me hearing my own hands clapping furiously.
At last Melanie came out of the backstage and waved her hand towards the crowd. I may have passed out for a minute there because of excitement. Reyansh sir slapped me on the cheek to stop me from clapping as everyone else has stopped.
“You okay?” Sam offered me water to calm me down.
“Yeah, thanks for the slap. I really needed it” I said as I chugged down the water.
“My pleasure” Reyansh sir liked slapping me, such a sadistic teacher.
“Hello everyone, it’s a pleasure to be surrounded with so many brilliant and aspiring novelists around me. I also loved the enthusiasm shown by you all.” Melanie said these words and looked towards my section. I am 99% sure that she looked towards me. Maybe I will die from heart attack. Her voice in real life is so shrilled. Oh by the way, she wore ethnic orange Indian Saree for this show. Boy, I can’t control myself right now.
“I am sure everyone is delighted to see you. So tell me what brings you here?” The announcer started to strike a conversation.
“So thanks to Vs studios, I have filmed my first film in India. My new film named ‘despair worldwide’ is shot across 4 countries, in which India is one of them. I got so much love from the people here and really the food is so amazing here.” Every word coming from her is music to my ears. The crowd broke into applause. I too joined in on the action. The applause died down after some seconds, but I continued clapping my hands. Reyansh sir slowly caught my hands and smiled towards the people who were seeing us because of my extra clapping.
“What has got his testosterone charged up?” Sam tried to whisper to Reyansh sir, but was audible to me. Reyansh sir just shrugged his shoulder to signify that he did not know.
The announcer then told her to take her seat on the couch present in front of the hall and enjoy the dance program they organized before giving the awards.
“Isn’t there a fashion show?” Sam asked in between the dance.
“No” Reyansh sir replied silently.
“Well that’s too bad” Sam adjusted in his seat looking disappointed. I on the other hand kept changing my seat position to get a better look of Melanie. Sam and Reyansh sir looked confused at what I am trying to do.
After some performances, the announcer announced the start of the award ceremony and invited Melanie on the stage. I stopped fidgeting on my seat as now I could get a clear view of Melanie.
The announcer started calling names of different people for different awards. The most noticing fact is that none of the award receivers were above 20. Looks like Sam forgot to mention that the awards were dedicated to upcoming writers.
“When will my turn come?” As 6 people were done taking their award and giving their speech. I could not wait to get on the stage.
“There are only 10 awards, you will be called soon enough” Sam calmed me.
I took on Sam’s word and waited very patiently for my turn. Seeing others talking and shaking hands with Melanie, while I sit so far away is disheartening for me.
“Thank you again so much for the award and I will cherish this award for the rest of the life” The 9th person who got the award parted with these words.
I brushed my hair with my hand and sprayed deodorant all over my coat in the anticipation of my name being called.
“For the next award, I would like to call upon a dazzling new writer who took on the world by surprise by his fiery writing.” The announcer looks like he is talking about me, but ‘fiery writing’ is not something I would use to describe my work. I stood up from my seat with my heart pounding as I started my march towards the stage.
“Please welcome with a round of applause. Mr. Mayank for the best twist in a book” The words spoken by the announcer froze my steps towards the stage. I quickly reversed my steps and found myself back to my seat out of shock and embarrassment.
“I thought you said there were only 10 awards?” Reyansh sir asked Sam.
“Well, that is what I was told.”Sam defended himself, but his defense meant nothing to me as I lowered my head to escape from this moment.
“That’s it for today. All the winners have got their awards.” The announcer said this line and I think I may have seen complete darkness around me. The only chance I got to meet Melanie said good bye to me, the world may have crumpled around me. Sam and Reyansh sir looked at each other in somewhat disbelief on what is happening.
“Or have they? We have a last award to present to a writer who took an atrocious idea and delicately scratched the idea in his book to deliver an epic story. Let me present to you the winner of the “Out-of-the-box idea” Mr. Shyan.” The announcer announced my name, but I am sulking so hard, that I did not even process what he had said. The crowd started applauding and waiting for me to stand up and show myself, but I still sat on my seat with my head down.
“Mr. Shyan, please come on stage if you are present here with us” The announcer announced. Reyansh sir took my hand and raised it high to show other people that I am present in the hall.
The people looked at my hand now and applauded looking at me, but my head still remained down. Then a very fast right hand thrashed my left cheek to get me back to my senses.
“Snap out of it, will you” It was Reyansh sir who literally slapped me back to my senses while all the other people saw him slap the shit out my cheek.
“Hey, not fair. It was my turn to slap him” Sam felt disappointed as Reyansh sir got to slap me twice.
I stood up and slowly walked towards the stage with my left hand caressing my left cheek to sooth the burning sensation. The people in the hall didn’t know what has just happened, but they still continued to clap for me. I continued my walk still with my head down.
“Congratulations” A shrilled voice greeted me on the stage. I could see the lower half of the orange saree as my head still looked down. My bp could have been well over the critical level as my heart pounded vigorously. I slowly raised my head to finally see the face of the person up close, whose face I had envisioned countless times in my dream, to actually see the person who I always dreamed of meeting in real life. I never thought that this moment would ever come to fruition, but here I am standing in front of Melanie face to face.
“Hello nice to meet you” Melanie’s voice enchanted me and paralyzed me at the same time.
“I love you” were the first words that came out of my mouth with hesitation.
“WHAT?” Melanie backed off a step after hearing this.
“I mean I love your work” I quickly corrected my phrase.
“Oh, thank you so much.” She said with a smile. On closer look, I could figure out that there were some features on her face, which were different from the ones which I saw on the screen, but still she looked perfect in my eyes. She then proceeded take the award from the staff and present it to me. She pushed forward her hand to shake my hands and present the award. The moment got slow, as I could hear every click of camera in near proximity with my hand closely edging towards her hand, with all the memories of how this journey started, from the downloading of the series in the school computer lab, to my first interaction with the old man, with the crazy rides with Reyansh sir, to the ever supporting Sam. All these images flashed through my eyes as my hand finally touched the hand it was searching from the minute I wrote the first words in my book.
At last our hands touch each other, as she looked at the camera, while I looked at her. She then presented the award to me while still looking at the camera, but my eyes were still transfixed towards her.
“Weren’t you the one who screamed my name when the announcer talked about me?” Melanie unexpectedly threw this question towards me.
“Yes, I am sorry if it offended you” I said embarrassingly. It is in this moment that our eyes met for the first time and I hoped that this moment to never end.
“Are you kidding me, I was so nervous back stage that no one would recognize me, then came your voice. It cheered me up you know.” Melanie praised me.
“Oh no, it’s not a big deal.” I lied.
“Can we take a photo with everybody, before you go to the podium to give your speech? I want to post it on my instagram. This is my last day here in India and I want to remember it.” Melanie just stole the words right out of my mouth.
“Yeah, sure” I said calmly, but on the inside there is a storm rampaging my insides. She took out her phone, it was custom made Samsung phone. I got to say, the phone looked damn expensive. She requested everybody to smile as they were seated on their seats. Only I am standing next to her while she clicks the photo. I stood with a stern look on my face to hide my feelings at that point.
“Would you smile a bit, this is your big day not mine.” Melanie said this and wrapped her hand around my shoulder to pull me closer. I tried to smile, but my mind constantly reminded me that she is very close to me. Her being this close is not good for my health, I just hope my heart does not explode under this much pressure.
“I hope we meet again someday.” She said after taking the photo.
“Well, just wait for my second book, surely will come to America to take another award there.” I laughed on my own joke.
“Well then see you there.” Melanie said.
“Well bye for now, I have got a speech to say” I said as I shook her hand for the last time. I did not wanted to leave that hand, but I also did not want to look like a perv. She then left the stage and sat on the couch again.
I slowly adjusted the mic on the podium and stared at the audience to start my speech. I may have not prepared anything for this moment, but I knew what exactly I had to say.
“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for being here to cheer me up and making this occasion so special. I also thank the organizers for selecting me for this award. Many have come before me and told their side of story. You may be getting bored, but hang in there with me. I would have thanked my parents, but they do not even know that I have written a novel. So I will save that part of the speech for the day when my parents are sitting among you all. Let me start thanking my teacher and friend Reynash sir who is sitting right there” I pointed towards him and Sam.
“He really pushed me to write this book, I still remember him coming to the roof of the school smoking in front of me and saying that I have what it takes to write a great book. Reyansh sir, just hope that no one from the school hears this or you will have a lot to explain about smoking in the school” The crowd broke into laughter.
“I would also thank my agent, Sam. Reyansh sir introduced him to me. He helped me a lot in understanding the industry. He also ditched us on the way to airport for a girl, but that’s a different story.” The crowd laughed again, while Sam tried to hide himself in his coat.
“There is one more person I would like to talk about. He is the inspiration for the main character of the book. I will not name him for personal reasons, but he also had a never to give up attitude. He had stage 4 cancer and he knew he did not have many days left with him, so he committed suicide. He did not end his life because he was sick of it, he ended it because wanted to be the one who decides when he dies. That’s the kickass attitude which inspired me to write this story. In no means do I support his decision, but he had a flare that was matched by none.” pin drop silence swept across the room and I could see surprise faces among the crowd as I spoke those lines. Even Melanie listened intently.
“Well looks like you don’t say these things in an atmosphere like this. Well in the end I would like to every person who made this award possible for me. I guess this is it for today. Thank you all.” I said and slowly climbed down the stage. I was expecting some kind of applause, but only silence eloped in the hall. “Somebody Please clap” were the thought roaming in my head. Suddenly I heard a single clapping sound coming from the front. I moved my head to see who it is and it is none other than Melanie. The rest of the crowd took a clue and joined in. I looked at Melanie and thanked her through signs, I don’t know if she understood it or not.
“That was an amazing speech” Reyansh sir said to me.
“It was, but I did not ditch you at the airport. I just kept you out of the loop a little bit.” Sam still defended his actions.
I just sat on my chair, with no energy to reply to both of them. My legs now started feeling wobbly, as I just realized what has happened. The award show got over and everybody left the hall, except us. I just sat on my seat for an hour.
“You okay?” Reyansh sir asked me as I had not moved from my seat.
“Yeah, I just now know who my future wife will be. It’s time to get back and start writing again, this is just the first meeting, but I feel good about it.” I just announced my future plans to him.
Now that I have seen my destination, the journey does not look so difficult to partake.
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Prose Beta Update 3/22/21
Good afternoon Prosers,
Thank you all so much for helping us test out the new Prose Beta! If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, you’ll find it at beta.theprose.com.
Here are some updates we’ve made, based on your feedback.
Bug Fix: Blocked Users
Some folks noticed content appearing from users they had blocked/had blocked them. There was indeed a bug that has since been reconciled. You should no longer see any messages, notifications, or anything else from users you’ve blocked.
Navigation: Writing Desk
We received a number of questions about how to find your list of posts/challenges/books, including unpublished posts and books. The writing desk is still available on the new site, but it’s been condensed to a single page. That page is now accessible from the primary sidebar nav. We’re still iterating on the design of the writing desk, which is intended to be a one-stop-shop for editing and managing all the content you’ve created.
Design: Challenge Prompts
You can now hover over the challenge icon on a post to see the prompt.
We’ve received feedback that the new navigation sidebar is too bold/distracting. We agree! We’re still iterating on the navigation design. One of our objectives with the redesign is to provide consistency of navigation across the site. The idea of the new sidebar navigation is to surface all the commonly explored areas of Prose in one place, which is only one or two clicks away, and have sorting take place in another. Currently, that means navigation on the left, sorting on the top. The current (old) site uses a topbar nav, which drastically limits the number of navigation items it can easily surface. For a site like Prose, which allows you to explore posts, challenges, books, portals, and authors, this is a tough constraint. If we were to return to a topbar nav, we’d either have to place all the commonly visited surfaces of Prose inside of a “hamburger” menu, or we’d have to surface all those areas via a single “Explore” page. For the time being, we’ve reduced the font size slightly and reduced its overall width.
Bug Fix: iPhone Zoom
iPhones were zooming inputs (like comment fields) when those inputs were in focus. This zoom caused other UI elements of the site to be zoomed as well. We’ve bumped up the default font size by 1px to avoid this zoom.
Bug Fix: Collapsing Comment Tags
Comment tags weren’t being properly collapsed to read ”@Me @You and X others”.
That’s what we’ve done so far, with much more to come. We are actively listening to your feedback, and want to incorporate as much of it as possible. Please continue to comment and share your feedback here. Don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We read all our emails, but we can’t guarantee reading each and every post/comment made here on Prose.
Here are some of the things you’ve asked for.
Currently, there’s no way to delete direct message conversations on the beta site. We know, it’ll be added soon.
Search is missing on the new beta! Fear not, it’s coming.
Challenges page is “unrelentingly white”. We agree, we’ll figure out how to add a splash of color.
Bug: Can’t Enter Challenges
We’ve heard challenges can’t be entered on the beta. We’ll investigate that ASAP.
Some folks want to be able to see themselves when browsing the popular authors page. We here you, we all have a bit of narcissist in us.
We LOVE dark mode. It’ll make its way to Prose, eventually.
We’d be lying if we said we didn’t take any inspiration from Twitter, especially for the sidebar navigation. We’re constantly looking at other sites to see how they solve some of the same challenges we face. We definitely want Prose to retain its character and charm. As such, we’ll definitely be iterating on the design (especially the navigation) in the weeks to come. However, we believe the heart and soul of Prose is not its design, but rather, its authors. It’s all of you who breathe life onto our pages.
Timing and the Old Site
Just so we’re all on the same page, we’ll leave the new site in beta (accessible at its own url) for as long as it takes to iron out all the bugs and address your concerns/feedback. We estimate that’ll take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months. After that, we’ll make the new site the default site. But the old site will remain accessible at old.theprose.com for the foreseeable future. We can’t remove the old site until we’ve updated the iOS app as well. Spoiler alert: a new iOS app is on the horizon, as is a native Android app - hoorah!
We hope this provides some transparency as to what we’re currently working on, and plan to be working on. Please keep the feedback coming!
The Next Chapter
Greetings fellow readers and writers. It’s been some time since we last updated Prose. Today we’re excited to provide a peek behind the curtains and give you a glimpse of what we’ve been working on.
Over the years, as we’ve added features and functionality to Prose, the app and its codebase have become increasingly unwieldy. As such, we decided to reimagine and rebuild Prose from the ground up. It’s still the same site you know and love, insofar as a Toyota Camry is just as much a car as a Porsche 911.
We’ll have more exciting announcements in the weeks to come; but for now we hope you’ll give the new site a test drive and let us know what you think. You will find the next chapter at beta.theprose.com and we encourage you to share your thoughts at email@example.com.