Vineet was having a hard time at his hometown. Now he knew what all those cheesy movies meant when they depicted Judaai (separation). His mother being unwell, he was taking care of her. But despite being caught up in that all day and seeing his mother’s condition improve, there was a dull pain at the centre of his heart. Whenever he got a chance, he used to look at Jessica’s photo on his phone. Poor network signal meant he couldn’t talk with her on the first two days.
On the third afternoon however, he took his mother’s phone and went up the stairs to the house’s terrace to talk with her. Her voice was cracking. Turned out, she hadn’t gone to college that day. Although she was pissed off at him for not contacting her, she didn’t show that. Instead, she let her desperation and pain come out.
“All I needed was a call telling me you were okay. I…..I was dying to hear your voice.”
He explained to her what his mother’s condition had been, how she was admitted to a hospital for 36 hours and how he hadn’t even got to have a decent couple hours’ sleep yet. A good 25-30 minutes of soft lovely conversations later, Jessica’s mood was audibly much better. Vineet made her promise that she’d go to classes from the next day.
“Come soon, baby. I miss you a lot. Please come soon.”
“I will, Jesse. Don’t worry. I will be back as soon as possible.”
They both kissed each other goodbyes while she implored him to call her at least once every day while he was there.
Three days after that first call, his mother’s condition worsened suddenly leading to long nights and poor sleep. Still he kept texting her whenever he couldn’t call. He had stopped using SMSs long ago because of the ease of internet-based instant messengers but the situation made him go back to them. A couple of days, he couldn’t call her even once, tied up in the work. In all, it took him 9 more days before he could finally return to college. Right after he got down from the rickshaw outside the campus at 8 in the morning, he ran to the hostels. He hadn’t told her about his return, wanting to spring a surprise. Outside the girls’ hostel, panting for breath, he dialled her number. She picked it up on the second ring. Despite her groggy voice, he could make out the excitement in her voice.
“Can you… go to… your window… please? I have asked… Karun to give you… something.”
“What happened to you? Why are you panting?”
Pulling a deep breath, he replied, ” Nothing. Just running in the fields a bit. Go check that window.”
As she got up from her bed and walked to the window intrigued, various permutations and combinations were going on in her mind at the speed of light. Within a few seconds though, all of them vanished. She removed the curtains and opened the windows to find him waving at her, with a wide toothy grin. She couldn’t stop a shriek. Reena, who was sleeping after a long night preparing for the exams, got up with a start. Running back from the window to the door of the room, she turned back to take her cellphone.
“What happened, Jesse?”
“It’s Vineet, Di. He’s come back,” she replied, ecstatically.
By the time Reena could process this and ask the next question, she was out of the door. Taking the stairs two or three at a time, she ran out the building and out the gate. The watchman gave her a puzzled look but she wasn’t even seeing him. Stopping just a step in front of Vineet, she looked longingly at him, her face a riot of emotions. Still breathing heavily, she pounded his chest with her fists.
“Where had you gone all these days? Do you even know what my condition is? You moron. I’ll kill you.”
Before Vineet could stop her, grab her wrists and pull her in to his embrace, Shahrukh Khan-style, the watchman broke in.
“What’s this? Why are you hitting the guy?”
Jessica turned back and glared angrily at him but Vineet stepped in.
“It’s cool, man. No issues.”
Cursing the watchman in his mind for shattering their perfect romantic moment, he put his arms around Jessica and said, “Let’s go have some hot coffee and samosas.” He gave her a peck on her head and they walked on the canteen.
“So did you write those letters to me as you said you would?”
“Um…hmm. Every single day.”
“Wow! I’d love to read them.”
“Here I was, living through hell all these days, and all you’re concerned about are the letters.” She made a face.
“Arrey, its not like that. I was worried every day about you.”
“Chill baby, I’m joking,” she smiled naughtily.
“Pulling my legs, eh?” He tickled her all over.
Breaking into a laugh, she put her arms around him. They were together again. Life felt good once more.
To Be Continued…