A/N: Hey Everyone, I'm back with a new chapter. In case you don't know, the pre-final semester of college sucks! and now that everything is online! it sucks even more... We're not able to catch a break, but somehow I was able to squeeze in some time to write,
Ps; the words in italics mean dreams and flashbacks, just in case you get confused :P
White was all she could see,
Where was she and why was she alone?
"…Come on Nairaa", she heard
"….Seriously you are such a slowpoke!" Gaadha looked back at her, "At this rate Appu and I could go around the building and come back and still find you here"
Naira glared at Appu giggling and scoffed.
" Just because you have legs that go miles, don't trouble my sweet legs" she retorted familiarly….
It all became white again, until she heard her own voice,..
"GOD! YOU'RE SUCH AN IDIOT!" this time they were on the side of a road where a there were a group of kids and young adults dancing merrily in a totally nonsensical routine, people glaring at them when they passed.
"What in the whole wide world were you thinking, dancing around on the side of the road like this! what if somebody hit you!" Naira was seeing red, seriously, why was her best friend always doing the stupidest things in the world.
"Yeah but nothing did and its not like I'm alone," Gaadha replied, flashing Naira a cheeky grin, "come on Nairaaaaaa", and she pulled her into the small huddle.
"Oh right! grin your way out of everything" Naira shook her head, a small smile playing on her lips as she started swaying to beats…..
It all changed again,
And suddenly she felt water- droplets on the top of her head,
"wow, it feels great doesn't it? The rain…" Gaadha looked at Naira, who was getting drenched in the rain along with her.
This time they found themselves on the terrace of their little PG home, the one they used to stay at during college and Naira remembered this scene all too well,
"yeah…" Naira looked afar, debating within herself how to say it to her. It was honestly stupid that she was worrying so much, Gaadha was her best friend and it wasn't like she was going to be against it or anything! This happens to everyone right? Mentally taking a deep breath,
"So, when are you going to tell me that you and Pavan like each other?" Gaadha looked at her mischievously and Naira wished the earth would swallow her as a whole. 'How on earth did she know anyway, it wasn't like they were anything obvious, wait, do the others know then?' Naira's mind was on a rampage, but as if reading her mind
"no-one knows about you two, I just made an educated observation" Gaadha winked at her.
"umm, so what do you think?" Naira asked.
"about what? Your relationship with him? Oh! Wait a minute so I was right on money then!, Sherlock Holmes would be proud" Gaadha patted herself on the back.
"okay quit it drama queen," Naira looked at her, "answer the question!"
"well.. it doesn't matter what I think right? I mean if you guys like each other you should go for it" Gaadha replied looking back at Naira.
"but things could change…. You and I could change, I don't want that to change" Naira came closer to Gaadha lying her head on her shoulders.
"ooooh-kay," Gaadha started, "then don't like him! problem solved" she winked.
"Gaadhaaaa.." Naira pressed to which Gaadha laughed.
"things will change whether you want to or not, that's what things like to do! Change!", Gaadha looked at Naira, a look that Naira was all too familiar with, "but even then, they only change if either of us want it to so…."
"promise me it won't!" Naira took her best friend's palm in her own and looked her dead in the eye.
Pavan may become the best or worst thing that would ever happen to her but this girl right here, she was everything to Naira. That's why she was so worried. She was worried that Gaadha might feel that Naira was undermining her when it was quite the contrary, Naira cared too much about her opinion. How she had become so much in such a short time, Naira would never understand. But one thing was for sure, she never ever wanted to let her go.
"Promise me!" Naira Pressed.
"Promise you what?" Gaadha smiled.
"Promise me that you'd never go away from me" Naira increased her grip, the rain was getting heavier, her teeth were starting to titter. Gaadha simply looked at her, like she was looking at a child and pulled her into a hug.
"you know, people pay good money to see girls like this, wet and clingy" Gaadha joked.
"Yeah well I'm broke, I wouldn't mind some money in my pocket" Naira retorted and pulled away from the hug, still holding her hand.
Gaadha snickered, but then moved to grab Naira's shoulders and looked her in the eye.
"you tell him, that if he ever makes you sad, I'll kick his sorry ass", she said.
"why can't you tell that to him yourself?", it was Naira's turn to snicker,
"well,…. I don't mind but don't blame if leaves you thinking you're a lesbo" Gaadha winked.
"wouldn't be the first time now, would it?" Naira replied, winking back.
Gaadha let out a whole hearted laugh ruffling Naira's wet hair and walked away from her, b till she reached the edge of the terrace and looked towards the road below. Naira kept her eyes on Gaadha the whole time. She was so happy, she felt strangely very happy that Gaadha would threaten Pavan.
Naira woke up from her reverie when she heard one of their other PG mates calling her. How long have they been standing in the rain anyway? She was sure in for a cold tomorrow. Great! she would have to see Pavan with a runny nose, talk about romantic! Maybe he would offer to take her to a hospital, mentally sighing at her running brain. She decided to take Gaadha and go inside.
"Gaadha come on, it's not going to stop any time soon" Naira turned to look at her, only to find that she wasn't there…
"Gaadha, where are you?…." Naira started looking around, she was standing by the door, surely, she would've noticed if Gaadha went inside already…
"Okay, this isn't funny you know… Where are you?", She started getting anxious, this wasn't how it had happened…
"Gaadhaa" she screamed on top of her lungs but nobody heard, why wasn't anyone coming!
Somewhere she heard, ' Promise you what? '
It had changed…
Why did it change?
"Naira! Wake up.."
Her breathing erratic, eyes blurry and cheeks stung with tears, Naira Susan slowly adjusted her eyes to the light as she tried to prop herself upon her elbows.
"You okay?" Appu quickly handed her a glass of water and sat beside her rubbing her arms, "you were crying in your dreams"
Naira looked at Appu, still dazed from her dream. It had been fairly long since she saw something like this and was still surprised at what she saw, what she saw had been her memories, except the last one, that one was, in her words, buggy and it still scared her nonetheless.
"Did I scare you?" Naira looked at Appu, her voice, totally hoarse from sleep.
"Well no! but what happened tonight certainly did" Appu scratched the back of her head,
'Tonight, oh that!' Naira didn't know if she should congratulate, or admonish herself for forgetting something so trivial.
" look, I don't know what happened between you and Pavan but I'm sure he didn't mean anything he said, Kayash too" Appu tried to pacify her. Naira figured that she must've assumed that Naira probably had a nightmare related to that,
After Appu presumably saw Gaadha at The Goan Cruise, the gang was completely disheveled. The ride back to the cottage was all quiet, the excitement and fun that had transpired moments before long forgotten.
When they came back to the cottage, they were still quiet. Dhyan and Shyam returned a little while after the rest of them had reached the cottage. They had gone back mid-way to ask the reception about the visitors, trying to get some kind of lead. But the reception had politely refused saying it was against their policy to disclose the details of their customers to other customers.
Although it was a common policy, Shyam and Dhyan looked so disappointed when they explained it. Dev was no different, he looked so upset that they couldn't get a lead, that it looked like he would cry. Kayash had begun to sink himself in guilt claiming they should've kept eyes on their surroundings and not on how their faces looked in the pictures, throwing a very unimpressed glance at Naira.
"What is that supposed to mean" Naira spat back
"Exactly what I said" he replied.
"Well, I'm sorry, I didn't see you reminding yourself back then either… and besides, what is this nonsense that you're all spewing about now, that you saw her" Naira started, "it could have been anyone"
"well, Naira you heard Appu, she saw her" Dev tried to reason with her.
"Appu thought she saw her, it could have been anyone" She reasoned back.
"anyone, who could have been Gaadha!" Kayash retorted.
"Gaadha is GONE!" Naira exclaimed looking at all of them, who looked back at her like she had grown two heads except Appu. She looked genuinely scared.
"Why?" Kayash snorted, "because Princess Naira says so?"
" . .so" Naira replied biting at each word.
"oh please, then who was in the video God damn it?" Kayash started to raise his voice,
"I DON'T CARE WHO IT WAS IN THE VIDEO!" Naira screamed, "I CAME HERE TO HAVE A NICE VACATION WITH MY FRIENDS! SO, EXCUSE ME! IF I'M TRYING TO HAVE SOME FUN AND NOT LOOKING AROUND FOR SOME DEAD GIRL"
"Stop it Naira!" Pavan got in the middle of both her and Kayash who looked like he was on fire and wanted nothing more than burn Naira.
"listen Kayash," Pavan started but Kayash stopped him
"I don't know what you signed up for," he began looking directly at Naira, " but I came here to look for my friend who probably was the stupidest person in this planet since she gave a hell of a lot of importance to someone like you!" Kayash's voice had started to crack although he was talking in a very low baritone, "So excuse me! If I get in the way of you having fun! Because that sure as hell wasn't the deal that I signed up for"
After what he said, Kayash went inside his room followed by Dhyan and Shyam who went right after him. Faizal was sitting beside Appu who has been positively shaken by all that happened. Dev went outside probably to clear his head and Krish Arjun and Vijay had excused themselves to the kitchen, saying something about whipping up some drinks. Naira went back to her room by herself and was followed in by her boyfriend who came in slamming the door open.
"what the heck was that?" Pavan asked
Naira tried to open her mouth but felt like her throat was getting constricted, but gathering all her strength to stop herself from crying, she asked, "did you not see the way he spoke to me?"
"Don't try to turn this around Naira! Listen I don't understand what's going on in that mind of yours, whether you choose to share it with me or not, I really don't care anymore." Pavan pointed, " but let me tell you this, and I've always told you this, trying to be tough and all is fine but lying to yourself and the ones around you isn't the solution. In fact, it's disgusting to watch"
Naira felt tears stinging her eyes, threatening to fall, she opened her mouth to speak but Pavan beat her to it.
"you know, if you were the one who went missing, she would be the first one to start searching for you, probably even before me" Pavan looked at her and proceeded to walk out, but before he exited he looked back and asked, "if it was me, would you have said the same thing?"
Naira couldn't control it anymore, the look on Pavan's eyes he looked so hurt, so disappointed, those same eyes that always looked at her with so much love and affection. Tears weren't threatening anymore they had fully flooded. She plopped down onto her knees and started crying like a baby. Why did she always do this to herself, she knew what she said was wrong so why didn't she stop then and there. Naira kept on crying crouched on the ground. She's been pushing it all down for too long now, she couldn't take it anymore…
"yeah, I know!" Naira took a sip from the glass of water that Appu offered earlier, "I'm sorry"
Naira saw Appu smile, and look at her like she was thinking something like putting two pieces together,
"what?" Naira asked,
"Can I ask you something?" Appu returned her question with a question.
"Did something happen between the two of you?" Appu looked at her, " I mean Gaadha and you?"
Naira looked at her for a long time and after what felt like an eternity of awkward silence she replied, "you were with us the whole time, wouldn't you have known if something did?"
"Yeah, that's what I thought" Appu smiled and Naira smiled back.
"listen Appu,…." Naira started.
"We know" Appu stopped her, which seemed to be happening a lot to her tonight, "It's okay, nobody is judging you, sure! we were all a bit taken aback at first, but then, we know what you went through, so it's kinda natural for you to react the way you did, weird! But in a very Naira-ish way natural!"
Naira couldn't help but smile, Appu was definitely a charmer, she had a very pleasant feel about her, one that puts you at ease, but then again, she's a consultant. Consultants are supposed to be like that right?
"Okay so do you feel any better?, do you want to talk the night out?" Appu offered.
"Nope, go back to sleep, I'll just walk around and come back" Naira said as she motioned to get out of bed.
"Are you sure, I'm a great company you know!" Appu pressed on.
"yes and greatly grumpy when you don't sleep enough, so go back to sleep, I'll be fine" Naira laughed.
"Okay, but call me if you need anything kay?" Appu reminded
"Appu I had a nightmare, I'm not some sick patient, I'll be fine" Naira scoffed, slowly opening the door, to which she heard Appu laugh not so subtly.
Naira wondered where she exactly planned to walk. Everyone was sleeping, and though she spoke a lot about women's strength, she was scared to go and walk outside on the beach at 2 30 in the morning, but she desperately needed some fresh air. If she was back home, she would've gone and sat by her balcony with a cup of black coffee and watched the city lights bringing her a wave of homesickness. She missed her apartment; she missed her bedroom; she missed the colour of her walls; she wanted to go back.
Naira wondered why she came on this trip, despite what she said she knew why everyone was here for and that dream, what was that about. She internally laughed remembering something Pavan said, 'you have too many thoughts and too small of a head' .
Pavan… he had looked so hurt, Naira knew it was just a fight and that they had fights all the time, but something about this time scared her, the familiarity of it all was uncanny and unsettling. Tears started to pool around her eyes again. Screw the night! She needed to get out. She grabbed the key from the counter and went by to open the main door only to find it already unlocked. Mentally making a note to kill the person who had been in charge of locking it after apologizing for her behavior tonight, Naira pulled it open and stood frozen to her spot.
Kayash Pathek of all people, was sitting on the porch, he probably sensed her too as he turned around and looked at her and motioned to stand up and leave, but just as he was crossing her to get inside, Naira grabbed his hand gaining his full attention.
"Stay" was all she said, she herself didn't know why she did that, it was pure instinct.
Maybe it was the way he looked at her before standing up, but at that moment, as ironical as it sounded, she felt like nobody would understand her better than he would. she felt that he must be thinking along the same lines too.
"I'll go grab us some beers, we'll need it" he smirked.
And just like that the two of them had sat down on the porch in comfortable silence listening to the sea waves, sipping their beers.
"Kayash?" Naira called,
"yeah.." he responded sipping on his beer
"I'm sorry for what I said earlier," she said looking down to the ground. She felt Kayash's gaze on her and she looked at him but he had gone back to sipping his beer.
"do you believe it?" he asked not looking at her
"believe what?" Naira clarified.
"what you said" Kayash looked at her, "that she's gone"
Naira looked at him for a long time, and he met her gaze just as strong. Even though it was dark, Naira could see the shine of his eyes properly, he had beautiful, passionate eyes, a feature that had more than a dozen girls drooling for him back in college.
"I don't….. I…" she started, she felt like saying a lot, but the words just wouldn't come out and suddenly she felt his warm hands on her head ruffling her hair and somehow that was exactly what she needed. She felt her eyes filling up once again at the sheer nostalgia.
"I'm sorry too" she heard him say, "I shouldn't have said stuff like that, pretty assholish of me"
Naira looked at him and couldn't help herself, " she was right!"
"who was?" Kayash asked back.
"Gaadha" her name it felt so old, how long had it been since she said her name, it was always she or her or some other verb.
"what do you mean?" Kayash clarified,
"she used to say that you're a lot like her, and you are" Naira smiled, "she used to talk a lot about you"
"yeah?" Kayash genuinely looked surprised, "well, she used to talk about you too, although I used to wish she didn't"
"Why?" she asked slightly giggling, maybe it was the beer, but somehow she was starting to feel better.
"well let's just say that I'm not particularly fond of you" Kayash looked at her and flashed a smile.
Naira wasn't ready for that, was he high already? How many beers had he had? Or was Kayash Pathek generally this open about his feelings,
"This is my fifth beer or something, I'm not usually like this" he began as if reading the cyclone that had begun to form in her mind, "but to tell you, I'm not high or anything, I just felt like if I kept that in me anymore then it wouldn't be right"
Naira genuinely didn't know what to say, but she felt like she could speak to him, this guy who used to hate her without any barrier. So, she did, they spoke about their work, their lives, the sand the sky and before she knew it, she was already down three beers and it was 4 30 in the morning and here they were bringing random stuff and speaking total nonsense, why? Because she needed it, they both needed it. But as she was reaching for her fourth beer, his hand stopped her and she looked at him.
"go to bed!, you've had enough for one night" Kayash looked at her
"Aww no fair!" she started in her slight squeaky almost high voice.
"hey! I wanna live to see tomorrow, alright, if you wake up with a hangover, your boyfriend might just plummet my ass thinking I was taking my revenge on you or something" Kayash defended himself.
"Ewww that's such a lame way for taking revenge" Naira laughed.
"Naah it's effective sometimes" Kayash snickered probably remembering the time he'd done it on his friends.
"still it's lame" Naira giggled, and motioned to get up" but you're right, I should go to bed, I gotta get up early and prepare for the long array of sorries I'd have to say starting with Pavan, aren't you going to sleep?"
"yeah after some time" he looked at her smiling and Naira returned that smile just as bright and she headed inside but stopped and turned back
"Kayash?" she called, and when he turned, " thanks for staying"
The rays of the morning sun had slowly started to ascend on the sea putting a beautiful glow on the water and waves. Kayash spared Naira a genuine smile
"get some sleep, you high-weirdo" he teased.
" you too Mr. lame prankster" she teased back and went back inside her room, had a glass of water and quietly, so as to not wake Appu, laid on her side of the bed, quickly falling asleep.
So that was the Eighth chapter, I'll try to update sooner in the future, but I can't go on making promises. A special thank you to all those who's been reading my story, although I do request you guys to leave a review because that's what helps me grow and keeps me inspired.
Also, keep in mind to always sanitize yourself, because the number of Covid cases is increasing and people seem to be less and less concerned right now, So I urge you guys to stay alert and keep following the protocols
Till next time, Cherio!