*Love...to be felt not told!
It was a sultry summer evening, as Riya hurried for her tuition that she always preferred to skip. Well, to be honest, she was a good student but studies never interested her much! She preferred nature. When she was a child she always dreamt of becoming an independent girl with a camera hanging from her shoulder!
She aspired to become a photojournalist, just like her father. However, being born a girl in a conservative Bengali family is a bit different from all other communities! At times, she felt it would have been better if she lived in Somalia, at least she could have fled from that place, just because she got an excellent presence of mind, which also helped her every day to evade her mom's red eyes!
She was popular among her friends and her best buddies included Srinjoyee, a girly girl; Damayanti, a fatty cutie; and Sreerupa, the girl from the 60's. But there was something missing from this rather happy-go-lucky girl's life. Want to know what? Love! Well, she was a sure showstopper, no question about that, winning last year's Ms. Fresh Face in the Beauty Contest held in her state, but she never believed she could love someone, or someone out of nowhere would emerge and propose her upfront, gosh! She hated the telltale Romeos.
"It's Tuesday" Damayanti yelled at her. Riya, blinking her eyes, and smiling coyly asked "what's with Tuesday?"
"Damn you Riya, don't you remember, we fixed a date for you last week? Go hurry"
"Date? me?" Riya panicked!
"Yes you idiot" Damayanti exclaimed with an ignorant tone.
"But?" Riya tried to say something but carried on with biting her nails instead!
"Cut the but, and now run fast, you are already running late, Satyaki is a good guy, handsome, well placed, and also is interested in you, so just cut the crap and keep moving you moron," her voice trailed off as she hurried away for breakfast.
Last night they had a sleepover, and were quite drunk, so staying back was the right choice her friends had made!
Liquor in this house? Her mom would never allow it, so Monday being the day when her mom goes to her aunt's place, was a right idea to throw a party!
Mr. Mitra was out of town, so Riya and her brother Rony being the only person at home was a great opportunity.
Rony was a class XII student, and sister's loyal brother.
"But Damyyyyy, listen, I can't go, firstly because am hungry now, secondly I don't like that guy, he has an unattractive voice, thirdly am least interested about dating all these romantic guys, and fourthly I can never fall in love! So just call that jerk and tell him am busy with someone else, if you can't do that for me, give me his number and I will do the needful" Riya said all she wanted in the top of her voice, accumulating all the words in a single breath!
"Okay, okay, calm down" Damayanti tried to figure out why Riya was reacting like this all of a sudden. Riya was a bubbly and sporty girl, but deep inside she was already lost, somewhere within she knew she can never love, she can never be loved.
"Love you babe," Riya winked. She knew if anyone really knew her inside out was Damayanti, as she had been through thick and thin; the good days as well as bad days. Her past was pretty much related with a guy she loved with all her heart, though none knew except Damayanti and the guy himself. She drank petrol and tried to put an end to all this, but her brother saved her in the nick of time; she was a changed person since that very night.
A night everybody will remember except her, a night that is stuck like a cancerous tumor on her body without her knowledge.
Promit was Riya's childhood buddy.
They studied in the same school from class V, had same subjects, but never got to know each other. Riya was a tomboy, always roamed around the school during off periods, and Promit on the other hand was a great student, always used to excel in studies, be it maths, geography or chemistry, he knew everything, the only thing he couldn’t comprehend was Riya, at least that was what Riya thought.
Not many knew this rather ugly girl with a joined brow which might remind you of the famous Bollywood star Kajol's brows. But this one was ugly.
She cried her heart out when she used to lose to her opponents, the game she loved with all her heart, badminton.
She never knew Promit, the only thing she knew was he was a brilliant kid, and was just so unlike her. She had a crush on him, since class V!
Time passed by, days turned to nights. They never got to know each other.
She had a crush on him, but what about him? He left the school in class VI even before Riya could muster all the courage to propose him.
When she was in class IX, she met a guy online, chatted all day, and as days passed by, love once again knocked at Riya's heart. But how could you love a person without meeting him first?
But even before Riya could realize, she went on becoming prettier day by day and her fan list was increasing by leaps and bounds!
She had a huge list of brothers, and never forgot to meet them during Rakhi, though the guys didn’t like it much, but they could have never ignored Riya's ethereal presence.
Her phone buzzed. "God! Again an FB notification!" She scratched her head and crawled down to the night stand near her bed.
She stared blankly as it read “Promit would like to be your friend. Add him? Hide the request this time!”
“Promit??? My Promit?? Oops I mean Promit from junior high? Am I dreaming? God not a lucid dream I think,” she pinched herself.
She had to add him, but acted a bit smarter, and sent him a message saying, "do I know you?"
He replied, “If you are the Riya that I knew, then yes, else am sorry to disturb you.”
Riya was stunned. He knew me? He really had known me? How could that be?
Next day morning Damayanti came to take a few Accountancy notes from her, but was left shocked. Riya dressing up, bright lips, dark eyes, and flowing curls, she was a definite diva but always hid this image under a big damn specs. “OMG, my darling looks gorgeous” Damayanti ran towards Riya to pull her baby cheeks.
“Now don't tell me you are in love, are you?” Damayanti raised her uneven brow.
Indeed she was in love, but couldn’t express it through words, She couldn’t speak her emotions; she tried to convey those with the help of her deer shaped eyes, eyes that force one to fall in love with her instantly.
A hidden meaning of love lingered all around Riya. She smelled of love, yet there was something that deceived the eyes of others, what, you may ask! It's her no nonsense attitude. But Riya made a mistake by telling Promit that she had a crush on him, and he in turn wanted to meet her when he came back from Bangalore. She was already too excited to meet her crush almost after 8 years.
They met on 16th of July, near CCD, a renowned coffee shop, one of the many places Riya loved in this crowded city of Kolkata. Dressed in a white tee and blue jeans Riya looked resplendent, black winged eyes and a dash of lip balm completed her goddess image. Riya could not expect the unexpected; he proposed her, but she couldn't say anything, she just stood there listening to him, She loved his voice. Promit's eyes glimmered, he looked dashing, Riya fell in love. With a cup of Cappuccino they chatted about all the happenings over the last 8 years. Yet Promit was still not satisfied as Riya didn't confirm her love for him, yet he kept the light of hope lit in his heart that someday Riya will be his princess forever.
Next day at college, after completing her Economics class, Riya went to the nearest CCD with Sreerupa to have a quick bite.
While they were entering the cafe, she saw someone, “Promit!!!!” She yelled silently.
Wow, what is he doing here now? She wondered.
“Hey, Riya!” Promit smiled.
“What are you doing here?” Riya questioned with an anxious voice, just like an inquisitive teacher, she thought Promit must have followed her.
But to utter relief of Riya, Promit said he came here with his brother to have a cup of coffee.
“Oh, is it?” Riya’s tone didn’t look like she took it as an honest answer. She again questioned “Where is your brother?’’ raising one of her neatly trimmed brows.
Promit smiled. “He’s right behind you, take a look”.
“Hi Riya didi,” his brother waved his hand. Riya now felt a bit embarrassed. She smiled back and joined them.
They went inside, taking a table on the corner. Promit and Riya sat together, while his brother and Sreerupa sat on the other two.
“So what do you study? By the way, what’s your name buddy?” Riya broke the silence.
“I am Rishav, and am studying in class IX at La Martiniere for boys. Dada told me…” he had to stop awkwardly; Promit whispered something that Riya couldn’t understand.
“What did he tell you?” Riya questioned him again.
“Nothing, that doesn’t matter, let's order something,. What will you two take?” Promit sounded serious.
“Cappuccino for us” Riya answered.
Time went by. They chatted like lovebirds, Riya wanted to stop the time for few hours, but as there is a proverb “Time and tide waits for none”, it didn't wait for them as well. They had to leave. Promit gave her a lift to her home on his Honda City, Sreerupa went off with her boyfriend who came to pick her up.
“How was it?” asked Damayanti over the cell phone.
“How do you know?” Riya sounded curious. “I know everything, just say it.” Damy whispered.
“It was great, I love him” Riya disconnected.
Three months went by.
Nothing really seemed to change, but there was something going inside Riya’s mind that only Damayanti could feel.
Promit went back to Bangalore, Riya stayed back to her grassroots, stuck with college and exam.
Class notes and Vodka bottles kept her busy. She felt the void of Promit in her heart, which none other than Promit could fill.
Suddenly one night Promit called. “Hi, it’s me” Promit’s voice. Riya was surprised! “You changed your number? I called you in your previous number so many times….is everything ok?” Riya meant to sound caring, as Riya had a notion that Promit regarded her as heartless.
“Ya, am fine, just busy with studies, missed you, so called you tonight, how is your boyfriend?” he enquired.
“I don’t have one, stop asking such baseless things.” Riya felt annoyed.
“So tell me something, why don’t you like me?” Promit asked with a sad tone lingering in his voice.
“I love you” Riya’s mind whispered.
“I don’t know, stop talking about all this, you will get a good girl for yourself don't worry” Riya tried to stay strong.
“Yeah I know, but I can never love anyone else” Promit whispered, his voice melted her heart.
“Stop saying all this shit, I don’t trust guys so love is something that scares me you know” Riya felt terrible.
“Why can’t you forget and move on with someone who loves you?” Promit asked.
“Forget about what? And why will I move on? Come on, I am not sad about anything, it's just that I don't trust people, especially guys” Riya answered, she was feeling disgusted about herself.
She tried to scream “I love you” but couldn’t, something stopped her, what was it? Even she didn’t know what was going on with her. She loved him badly yet she behaved ruthlessly ever since he left. She hung up.
Life was a rollercoaster ride for her. She searched for the man who would love her the way she wants to be loved. The love she longed for all these years, from Promit. The care she needed from him.
Yet he felt nothing, all he wanted to hear few words, affirmations, he couldn’t feel the love that lingered everytime they met. After her exams, she accompanied him only because she loved his company, she didn’t want anything in return, she just longed for love, which she would see in his eyes, just for her, but she never felt it right, all Promit needed was just a few words, mere syllables “I love you” is that all?
Months went by; everything was full of life, except Riya. She wasn’t egoistic. All she was a bit introvert, she couldn't speak her mind. She hid everything from everybody fearing she will be rejected.
Though Riya and Promit still talked over the phone few times a month, but it seemed like a ritual. She wanted to love him, but the shear upfront dumbness of Promit left her aghast. Couldn’t he feel the way Riya feels ?
Yes, true, Riya hated him, not for his personality, but his blurry vision, which took away the capacity to see love, to understand it without even letting it express through words.
As days passed by, she got insomniac, so she started to take sleeping pills, and had terrible mood swings which caused to avoid his messages and calls.
Damayanti asked her to stop all these and let him know that she loves him more than she loved herself.
“He is too childish, I don’t want to ruin his life, damn me, I love him. But don’t let him know it, ever. Promise me,” she asked Damayanti to keep it a secret.
Suddenly, after few months, she felt the stupendous need to muster up all her courage and say the truth. So, one fine night, she texted “I love you and I mean it.” There was no reply.
Next morning she felt ashamed of herself. She knew this was coming, but she had to try it either way, she texted again, he replied, saying his exam just started and he was going to college. So he would talk later. She felt a bit better.
That night he called and asked if she was serious, and after an hour love once again shined brightly.
But probably the Almighty thought of something else. As time passed by, the initial zeal of their relationship started to fade. They had regular fights over the phone, even over trivial matters; Riya was always mischievous and Promit was always too serious.
It was 16th of July - one year went by. That night, he called her and said that she needed to change her attitude, otherwise to forget him altogether. Riya cried and knew for sure it was all over. The phone got disconnected. Though the initial glimmer of love was not that strong, Riya could have never imagined such an outcome as only the night before everything was perfectly fine, so why tonight she had to face this shock ? Little cracks in relationships can sometimes cause a big gap. The blurry vision she had once was cleared now and to her surprise she found out the real truth. Promit blocked her on Facebook. She logged in from Damayanti’s account and checked his profile and to her utter surprise, she found his updated status to be “married.” Riya knew that girl, she was a friend of Promit.
When it was still dark, she took the extreme step and drank some petrol, but Rony emerged from nowhere and saved her before she could complete the whole bottle.
Though she survived, she lost her eyes together with brain damage resulting in dementia.
Riya now lives with her parents, at home. Everyone tries to comfort her, though to Riya all the meaning was lost. She forgot everyone, everything, well almost everything, as her physician is still trying to revoke her memory through a mental exercise program.
In her cabinet there still lies the Bournville that Promit gave her on their first date.
Probably she will never know that Promit and his wife visits her once a month, and Promit being one of her caregiver.
He shifted to Kolkata with his son Aryan and wife Julie,the girl that satisfied Promit with words of love unlike Riya. They decided to shift to Kolkata for Aryan's studies but after reaching here Promit got to know everything, he felt guilty, he cursed himself for everything, yet it is too late now, all he can do now is help.
Riya smiles all day, laughs and roams around the house as if nothing has happened, she is too happy like any other girl, but whenever one talks about love she gets angry, something that nobody will ever understand it's just a sign.
Everyone is busy living their life, seeking money, fame, materialistic pleasures, but what about Riya? She only craved for love, pure and unconditional. Though nothing matters anymore to her now.
"It's Tuesday" Damayanti (Riya’s mom) yelled at her. Riya, blinking her eyes, and smiling coyly asked “what's with Tuesday ?” Sreerupa (first nurse), Srinjoyee (second nurse), and Promit too geared up for their role playing act in the hopes that Riya would someday regain her memory.
Her mother took Damayanti's role, Sreerupa and Srinjoyee are none other but Sanchari and Megha the nurses working under Doctor Satyaki Basu.
Satyaki the handsome doctor is trying his best to give this girl another chance to live, to love. Probably he too fell in love with Riya, her blind eyes didn't seem to lose the love spark yet.