Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Blessed Awakening of a Cursed Morning

Ashish yawned and stretched his legs. The alarm had woken him up abruptly. It almost felt like he had not slept at all. The truth was not far from this as well. He had gone to sleep just three hours before the alarm woke him back.

Ashish moved towards the bathroom like a zombie. The biggest advantage of living alone was that no one bothered him while he completed his daily rituals in the bathroom. At least that is what Ashish thought. His mother however, had other plans. His phone started to ring.

“Hi mom,” Ashish said coming out of the bathroom hastily.

“So Ashish, how are you?” his mom asked over the phone.

“I’m fine mom. Why are you calling this early?” Ashish asked.

“Can’t a mother call her son?” Came the reply.

Ashish was annoyed at hearing this. It was not that he didn’t like his mother. In fact, he adored his mother. However, since his breakup his mother had become overly caring of him. She had started to call more than once a day. It was almost as if she was expecting him to do something really stupid. Also, it had been more than six months since the breakup and while he had welcomed this change in the first month or so, now it had become annoying.

“So do you two talk to each other?” His mother asked.

“We have not talked to each other over a month now.”

“Okay. And how are you doing?”

“I am fine mom. You don’t have to bother this much.” Ashish said.

Ashish and Radhika had been the peach of his mother’s eyes. As a matter of fact, his friends too loved Radhika. It was considered certain that they would end up together forever. At one point of time even the two of them had started to think in this same fashion. But, as fate would have it the two were separated by the seven seas. Radhika got a great opportunity to work in the United States. While she was reluctant to go, Ashish convinced her that it would be the best course of action. Of course, at that point of time Ashish thought that they could walk a long distance relationship. However, within three months of being in a long-distance relationship he realised that it was far tougher than he had thought.

After the initial charm of a long-distance relationship had passed the two started fighting over everything. Soon, the two started dreading each other’s calls instead of awaiting them. It took a lot of courage for Ashish but he finally had the talk. Radhika was also relieved to hear that Ashish was also facing similar problems. When the actual breakup happened, they both felt that it was long overdue.

They tried to keep in touch for some time as friends but that failed miserably. Eventually, they decided to stop contacting each other and move on with their own lives. They both knew that if an opportunity ever comes that they are in the same city things would rekindle but until then they were two strangers for each other.

It was not that Ashish didn’t miss her. Initially, he was in a lot of pain as well over the breakup. Nevertheless, six months later, he was fine. The breakup had not been as hard on him as he had imagined. Perhaps the reason for this was their long fights and even longer silences.

Yet, he knew the reason why his family and friends were concerned about him. It was due to the clothes that were still in his home. When Radhika had left for US, she had left her clothes in Ashish’s house. These clothes represented the hope that they had in their relationship. And now, Ashish didn’t know what to do with these clothes. He thought of throwing them away but decided against it and thus the clothes were in his house.

“You will tell me if something is wrong honey?” His mother asked suspiciously.

“Yes mom. If ever anything is even slightly wrong, you will be the first person whom I will tell.” Ashish said to his mother.

“Okay. Love you honey. Bye.” his mother said.

“Bye mom. Love you too.” Ashish said and started to get ready.

Ashish’s office was a little far off. It took him about an hour to reach their and in the evening even more than that. However, the driving was a great distraction from all the tensions in the world.

When Ashish came back from the office he found Radhika’s clothes on the bed. He was a little confused at seeing the clothes on the bed because he had given strict instructions to the maid to leave the clothes alone. Annoyed, he kept back all the clothes in the wardrobe and put a reminder to tell the maid off. Tired, he went to sleep.

The incessant ringing of the alarm woke him up in the morning. He opened his eyes and felt drowsy despite the full eight hours sleep the night before. Rubbing his eyes he opened them slightly and saw Radhika’s face. Beside him, in a silk gown she was sleeping like an angel.

“Good morning, honey.” Ashish said smiling.

“Good morning, love.” Radhika said humming.

Suddenly, realising what had just transpired he woke up with a start. Radhika was still lying on the bed with her eyes closed and a faint smile on our face.

“What… How… When??” Ashish mumbled.

Radhika opened her eyes and there was a clear joy in them, even though her smile seemed pained. Ashish held her face in his palm. Radhika smiled and said — “I love you.”

“I love you too.” Ashish said in an uncertain voice.

“I missed you” Radhika said stretching herself.

Ashish started to laugh and Radhika joined in. Ashish hugged Radhika.

“Now, bring me a cup of tea.” Radhika ordered playfully.

Ashish kissed Radhika, picked up his phone and went to the kitchen to make tea. He saw that there were 15 messages and five missed calls on it. All of them from her mother. He opened a message. The message said:

‘Radhika had an accident last night. She couldn’t make it. Call me as soon as you are up.’

Ashish could not believe what was written and ran back to his bedroom. He could not find Radhika anywhere. The gown however, was still lying on the bed.