At a very young age, she lost her father. It was a sudden death. And, for a long time, her face was the testimony of the trauma of her father’s death. She did not attend the school for one whole month. Many relatives and friends coaxed her gradually to attend the school. During all school hours, her face wore the deserted look. Her uniform was rumpled and hair were messy. Teachers remarked her notebooks finding them incomplete. She cast her eyes down all the time for no certain reason. She avoided all possible confrontations with me even. Her such behavior was ruining my inner peace. It was hard to believe this transformation in a chirpy, neat and clean active girl. One day I decided to talk to her. I stopped her while coming back from the school.
“Riya! What’s the matter? Why don’t you talk to me?”
“I don’t want to.” She tried to walk away with a short reply.
“But, why? See! I know you are disturbed after Papa’s episode but..”
“I want to break it up.” She didn’t even listen to my whole sentence and replied instantly.
“Oh! You mean our friendship?” I asked her.
“Yes. And please don’t talk to me again.” She said in a rude manner and almost ran away. I tried to chase her but gave up after some strides. I was shocked and shattered. We were in good terms for a last one year. Nothing wrong happened between us in recent times except her father’s untimely death. I was clueless about her reaction towards me and to herself even. I could not eat my meal that night. That night was the longest dark phase of my life. The hands of the clock were moving very slowly. I could not decide what I shall do now. Should I ask her again or not, was my mind’s predicament. We came closer in eleventh class in a cultural program. Our love affair was not a much publicized case. We did not converse much verbally. But, exchanged love letters regularly week after week. A lip shape drawn in the letter reddened with the pen was the only instance of our physical intimacy.
Next morning, as I reached the school gate, Nidhi, one of our classmates, walked towards me handed me over an envelope. Before I could ask more, she slipped away saying “Riya has sent it for you.” I glanced over the envelope. It was sealed with cello tape nothing written over it. I ran to the backyard and hid myself behind a tree. My heart was pounding with curiosity. I almost tore the tape part of the envelope and took out the letter. It was Riya’s handwriting. Letter started without any formal greetings. It began with ‘Varun’ only. I went through the letter almost in a single breath. As I finished the content, I sat on the ground. I read the letter again and again. “Oh poor Riya!” I whispered with a sigh.
Riya’s only sister Ragini was two years younger to her. She was also studying in the same school. Ragini was an introvert girl. I had never talked to her though I knew she did know about our love affair. Riya’s father was a bank officer. One evening, he was walking on the road near PWD Store. At 7 O’clock in the evening, the store was closed. Suddenly, he noticed something unusual inside. As he peeped inside the gate, he collapsed on the ground. It was Ragini inside with her real cousin in an illegitimate condition. He could not believe her eyes. He mustered some courage and returned home. He questioned Ragini about the incidence. Ragini admitted that they were in love and did not want to end the relation. Father, mother and elder sister tried to persuade the girl but all in vain. She could not understand the augustness of blood relation. Her relation with her cousin was despicable. Society will spit on the family; she did not want to listen. Her father did not die a natural death. He had consumed poison.
Riya’s letter ended up asking me to promise that I will not tell anyone. She did not want to continue with me as her mother was depressed. Riya wanted to be with her. She also had to save Ragini as she tried attempting suicide three times after that. She wanted me to help her, by forgetting her.
… To Be Continued.