Fire and Water

Sanga sat there staring at the lady standing at the counter paying for her coffee. She seemed extraordinarily familiar. His heart didn’t beat faster but it slowed itself down. His pupils dilated to their full extent. A marvellous smile was stuck on his face now. He knew who she was. She hadn’t changed much. The spectacles were new, and they suited her majestically. She was formally dressed. She took a seat with some people who seemed to be her colleagues. The ID card dangling down her neck told him she had come here for her lunch break and that she’d be gone in a few more minutes. He couldn’t have let this chance slip through his palms. He wanted to lunge at this chance but something kept him glued to his seat.

“Will she recognize me?” He asked himself. Beads of perspiration appeared on his forehead. He pulled back his shoulder length hair and tied it into a small ponytail. He remembered how the same lady had told him she would love to see him with long hair. They were children back then, mere teenagers, 15 years old. When her smile twitched a bit, just like before, Sanga became hundred percent sure it was her, Kayra.

He didn’t wait. 1-2-3 and he pull his body off the chair, mustered up all his might and walked up to her. He stood beside her leaning over a bit with a extraordinarily wide smile. He had never smiled like that in all of the 13 years.

‘Hi’ he said, his voice firm.
‘Do i know you?’ she asked him a bit embarrassed.
‘Have i changed so much?’
‘I can’t recall—’
‘You really have forgotten?’
‘Maybe i have, or maybe i haven’t’
‘See this’ he showed her the watch he was wearing. The special watch. The watch that she had gifted him all those years back, with their initials etched on the back side and on every piece on its chain, “KS”.
‘Remember now?’
Sanga seemed a bit frustrated and upset. He decided to tell her his name instead. He glanced at her wrists. The bracelet he had given her wasn’t there. She must have had thrown it away, or it was probably lying dead and lifeless in a drawer with dirt settled on it, forgotten amd forbidden. 13 years are probably enough to make an extremely valuable substance a pathetically useless artifact. He choked.
‘Sanga Kumar Yadav. I guess this rings a bell?’
‘Sanga?’ she took a pause, forced her mind and then her eyes widened ‘Sanga! Oh yes i know him—Sanga! Oh my god you! What a surprise.’
‘No! Pleasant surprise! Still so funny aren’t you?’
‘Yeah, still the same i guess. You have changed’
‘I have? Maybe.’
‘From the inside you have maybe. From the outside, you haven’t really changed much.’
‘Oh really?’
‘Yes, I recognized you first’

She became silent and took a look at him as he stood taller than before. Sanga had surely changed much more than Kayra. It seemed as though she was suppressing some sort of feeling inside her. Maybe Sanga realized but he overlooked.

‘You have changed. Taller, muscular, i can see the beard. And your hair! I love it already.’ she said after a taking a good look.
‘I have changed and yet i haven’t. You haven’t changed and yet you have’
‘The same old mysterious Sanga. Talking in riddles’
Sanga giggled as she did the same.
‘Do you remember my name?’ she asked, making a peculiar face.
‘That’s even a question? I can’t forget your name. Kayra Sharma. I even….’
‘say na!’
‘I remember your family members’ names too.’
‘Why would i lie’
She didn’t say anything and smiled, as if to herself. She made him take a seat and then she introduced him to her colleagues. They chatted then, but among all those, Sanga answered only to her. They exchanged numbers. He was still a bit shocked by the fact that he finally met her. But it wasn’t completely a coincidence. He was there in Delhi for almost a year now. He was there only in the hope that he might run into her someday. And it finally happened.

‘So when can i call you?’ he asked her
‘Would that be necessary?’
‘Kidding. You can call me anytime!’ she said and giggled. ‘God your face became a bit pale!’
‘Yeah maybe it did’ he said and smiled.
She checked her watch.
‘We should get going, lunch break’s almost over.’
‘Your office is nearby?’
‘Yeah 5 minute walk’
‘Oh good. Mine’s close too.’
‘So talk to you later i guess’
‘Yeah definitely’
‘Shave before we meet again. You look a bit barbaric. Or does your girlfriend like beard?’ she said and nudged him.
‘No! No! I am single. I have just been busy’
‘Oh good. Hard working man. Shave then’
‘Yes. Definitely, after all you like clean shave’ he murmured
‘You still remember a lot’ her eyes widened as she said.
Sanga nodded.

She turned back and waved him a goodbye as she left the shop with her colleagues. He waved back, and then stood there enjoying the essence of Kayra that lingered. He could still smell her tantalizing perfume. He closed his eyes “Thank you God” he murmured.

‘What the fuck! No! Not again! You will not do it all over again and fuck it up like before. You said we came here for a different purpose. Because we liked it here. But you lied! You came here for her!’ said Murari. His roommate and childhood best friend. They lived there in an apartment on rent. They worked in the same office.
‘I couldn’t control myself’
‘What do you mean? You mean that you broke the vow the moment you made it?’
Sanga became silent. It was true though. Murari had made him vow to never think of Kayra again. But he had broken the vow the moment he had made it.
‘Murari. I love her’
‘No you don’t! You remember what happened all those years back! You were totally fucked up because of her.’
‘It wasn’t her fault.’
‘Yes it was Sanga!’
‘No it wasn’t. It was all my choice. To make her problems mine. I loved her’
Murari buried his face in his palms as he paced around the hall.
‘Why can’t you see this? You make mistakes all the time. And you hurt her. And it hurts you too. The two of you aren’t meant to be. The two of you are like fire and water. You two always end up hurting each other.’
‘Murari, listen, it has happened because it’s meant to be. We met again because it’s our fate.’
‘This is why you rejected Rukmani and all those girls who liked you legitimately?’
‘Yes. I am her’s and only her’s.’
‘You wasted 13 years for her! I thought you were doing this because you didn’t like all those girls. Damn what a fool i was.’
‘Murari, i had to lie. I didn’t want to loose you too.’
‘I wasn’t going to leave Sanga. It was supposed to be for your own good.’
‘She is good for me. I am much happier now that I have found her’
‘She doesn’t love you Sanga’
‘Why are you saying that?’
‘Think. If she had the slightest of love left for you, she should have searched for you too. You are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and whatnot, simply because you thought she might try to find you someday. But did she? No. She never did’

Sanga was about to say something against his statement but he only opened his mouth and nothing came out. He didn’t have an answer for this. He gave it a deeper thought. Why didn’t she look for him? Why? He had no idea. Was Sanga really no one for her? Had she really moved on? Are 13 years enough for love to change? He didn’t know.

‘I must try’ Sanga said after 10 minutes of silence. Murari looked disappointed. He had been waiting for an answer similar to what he wanted to hear. But it was just the opposite.
‘I am your best friend, your brother. I can’t let you do anything alone. If you really think that there’s a chance, then fine. I am with you. And yes! Don’t slit your wrist again!’
‘Yes sure’ Sanga said and both of them broke into laughter.

That night Sanga couldn’t sleep. Of course he couldn’t. How could he have slept after finally meeting the person he has been after for 13 years. All those memories flashed in front of his eyes. He recalled the bike rides with her. How desperately he had learned driving a bike simply to take her sight seeing. He remembered how much he had hurt her. And how much he was hurt in return. Even though he believed that it was his own choice to burn in that pain and agony for her, he still couldn’t deny the fact that they really were like fire and water, always opposite. He recalled slitting his wrist when Kayra left. The day she left Banaras, Sanga broke down drastically. He couldn’t grab onto his life. He let everything slip away. He failed his first half yearly exams. She had cut him off of contact simply for his own good. He asked himself ever since what was the good in it? What was good about letting him be? He needed Kayra. She was his hope, his happiness, his everything. He spent days in the ICU, and Kayra didn’t know about it at all. She didn’t know how bad his condition had become after she had left. He was also beaten up by her father and brother, due to some misunderstanding, while he was the one who stood by her through her worst days. He didn’t mind any of it. He loved her so madly. The truth was still hidden to Kayra though. She didn’t know why Sanga was so vengeful towards Kritaksh that he tried killing him. Kritaksh was the harasser of Kayra who had been after her for years. Thanks to Sanga she was always safe. But the most important person never knew this truth, Kayra’s father.

“I love you Kayra” he had been saying this every night in all those 13 years before sleeping. He still had all her pictures intact in his phone. And he had copies of it. Was he a psychopath? No he wasn’t. He was just another insane lover who couldn’t help but love her insanely. He recalled how he had a chance to bang the hottest girl in college, Rukmani, everything was so perfect, he could have had lost his virginity with such a beauty but he blew it away. He had pushed her so hard that she fell on her back. His long hair attracted lots of those girls. Murari worked hard to set him up with girls but every single time Sanga would blow it away and Murari stopped trying too. Girls talked about him. They liked him. Because he was so hard to get and so serious all the time. But  they never knew that someone else owned Sanga.

He had written so many letters to her, and all of them were trapped tied, and hidden in a drawer. He wondered if he will finally have the chance to let them out and go to the person they were written for. She was his goddess, he worshipped her every now and then, insanely in love.

The next day was a Saturday. He woke up early at 5 and checked his phone first. No messages, no calls. Kayra used to wake up early in the morning too. He hadn’t checked if she was on WhatsApp, he opened the application and scrolled down his contact list and he found her profile. He tapped on the profile picture and saved it, he spent seconds admiring the picture before he opened up the chat and typed “Hi”. He wasn’t sure if he should send it or not. “Maybe I should be patient show a little attitude and wait for her to text first. After all ladies first isn’t it?” he thought to himself “Fuck this shit. I waited 13 years. I can’t be patient for puny stuff like this” he murmured. 1-2-3 and he tapped on the send button.

The double tick appeared, and multiple thoughts popped inside his head. “Is she awake?” “chatting with someone?” “Someone who?” “Maybe she left the data connection on” “Who might she be talking to” “will she even see my text?”. It was now 7 in the morning and Murari woke up, finding Sanga pacing.

‘What happened?’ Murari said rubbing his eyes.
‘I texted her’ Sanga said looking at the phone screen.
‘What? Why? You had to wait idiot, for her to text first’
‘I couldn’t. I just had to’
‘And clearly she hasn’t replied’
‘No she hasn’t’
‘Idiot’ Murari said with a grimace and stormed off into the bathroom and soon the sound of the brush rubbing against teeth was heard.

Murari and Sanga were having breakfast when the phone’s notification ringtone was heard and Sanga jumped up. He quickly unlocked it and it was as usual a message from Vodafone. “Fuck”
‘What do we get everyday for free?’ Sanga asked sarcastically
‘What?’ Murari asked.
‘Messages from Vodafone and Airtel. They love us so much don’t they? Every single day they text us.’
‘Are you high?’
‘No. That’s what I’ll be in the evening.’
‘You coming right? Even last week you sent me alone. Bloody lazy shit’
‘No. I have to wait for her text.’
‘Nothing for you then’
‘Fine! Just this week. Next week it’s your turn!’
‘Yeah whatever’

At 12 in the afternoon Murari was out buying Royal Stag for the evening while Sanga lay on the sofa with his phone on his chest. Still desperately waiting for a text or a call. No. Only a text, because he would never get a call from her, not so quickly at least. And just then his phone vibrated, he was almost asleep when he jostled and woke up to his senses. He quickly unlocked his phone and saw what he was expecting. Kayra had texted him.

‘Hey’ she had replied
‘How are you?’ Sanga replied super fast.
‘I am good. It’s just been a day.’
‘Yes but it seemed like a decade’
‘Don’t know’
‘So? We should catch up some day.’
‘Yes exactly i was saying the same thing. We should meet up.’
‘Yes. And i wanna introduce you to someone too.’
‘Yeah? Who?’
‘That’s a surprise’
‘Suspense huh? Just like before’
‘Okay so when?’
‘Tomorrow? It’s Sunday too. No other better day’
‘Yeah sure why not definitely!’
‘Okay then. 11 am at the same café’
‘Yeah great then.’
‘Ok bye. I got some work’
‘Yeah bye see you tomorrow.’

The chat ended.

In the evening Murari was ready with the glasses.

‘Here’s yours’ he said and handed Sanga a glass.
‘No i am not drinking today’
‘What? But you said— it’s her again isn’t it?’
‘Yes i am meeting her tomorrow. I can’t be hungover’
‘One glass won’t harm’
‘It would’
‘Fucking bastard! First you send me alone and then this?’
‘You said you are with me on every step.’
‘Yes i am but this is overprecaution.’
‘I can’t risk it.’
‘Yeah whatever’
After a small pause of silence
‘Wait that means! You will take the fucking bike!?’ said Murari with a jerk
‘Yes’ Sanga said smiling cheekily
‘Damn you.’
‘You are better suited at home’ Sanga said laughed
‘Chutiya!’ Murari said and whacked Sanga’s head wtih the sofa cushion.

The next day Sanga woke up early in the morning as usual and first of all he shaved, and then did all his chores, ate his breakfast and was now sitting on the sofa. It was just 8 in the morning. He had his jeans and shirt ironed. No boy irons his jeans and yet he did. He was desperate about meeting her again. But he was also scared. He was scared of the distance he’d be introduced to. He was scared of knowing how much she had changed. He was scared of not finding himself in her. He was very scared. He was curious, about who Kayra’s gonna introduce him to. Her friend? Her new best friend? Or would it be someone else, someone who’d ruin his chance. He tried not to think about it but the thought kept penetrating all the barriers of his mind. Murari didn’t wake up and as soon as it struck 10 he quickly got dressed and left the house without waking him up.

All those years he had regretted buying a pulsar. Who regrets buying a pulsar? But now he was proud of the fact that it was pulsar he owned, instead of a splendour. He drove off merrily with a smile on his face. By 10:30 he was there in the café, swiping on his phone screen looking at Kayra’s old pictures, and the umpteen pictures they had taken together. He could find the bracelet he had gifted on her hand in almost every picture, but now it was lost. 30 minutes went by swiftly and in addition to that Kayra was 10 minutes late.
“Wow. She looks so gorgeous. The same old outfit, skintight black jeans and a t-shirt. She’s so cute.” Sanga was lost.
‘Sorry for the delay really. God, the traffic!’ she looked up at his face as she took a seat, it was blank with a strange smile on it. It was as if he wasn’t hearing anything at all. ‘Hello, Mr. Yadav!’ she said waving her hands in front of his eyes and snapping her fingers.
‘Huh? You were saying something?’ he said coming back his senses.
‘I was saying that i am sorry for being late’
‘Oh that’s fine really.’
‘So when did you get here?’
‘Just now’
‘Oh’ she said and she noticed a peculiar expression on his face ‘What?’
‘I got here 40 minutes earlier’
‘What? Why?’
‘I didn’t want to be late’
‘You didn’t to be so early either’
‘You look, great’ he said and smiled
She didn’t anything and blushed like a bride.
‘So where’s that person you were gonna introduce me to?’
‘The person’s not coming, being extremely busy.’
‘Oh okay so it’s just us then. Great we will catch up’
‘Yeah exactly just like….before’ an awkward silence engulfed them. But Sanga broke it.
‘So who is this person anyway?’
‘Told you that’s a surprise’
‘Okay fine then’

They then talked and talked and caught up. They spent an hour there and then decided go out, on a ride. Sanga couldn’t believe he would be driving, with Kayra sitting behind him after all those years. He was extremely happy about it. Butterflies, elephants, mice and all kinds of animals where in his stomach. But then he got an even bigger surprise.

‘I’ll drive! Please?’
‘Umm what?’
‘Come on Sanga i know how to drive. Please?’ she said and made a puppy face.
‘But, it’s a pulsar’
‘So? I ain’t strong enough for this you are saying?’ she said and narrowed her eyes and put her hands on her hips.
‘No no, i ain’t saying that. You’re strong, you are very strong. Like khalli’
She giggled and snatched the keys from him.

The tantalizing perfume and her cologne blew by his face. Her hair brushed his face as if caressing it with love. Every single strand seemed like silk. Nothing was better than this. ‘Let the road never end’ he thought. She kept on speaking the whole way, he listened with such attention. Every single syllable from her mouth was music to his ears. The sound of traffic and the cars was blocked out, and only her voice echoed in his ears. He felt like being in heaven. Sitting at the back while she drove was the best thing to do for him now.

They had lunch in a restaurant. He watched her eat. Every single thing she did was majestic for him. He admired her every second. He was a crazy lover. He wanted to tell her how cute, beautiful, elegant and gorgeous she looked while gulping down soup

They went to her house then. The sun had set. The time they spent together was extremely precious for Sanga. He would never forget it. After 13 long years they were back together. Finally.

‘So thanks i had a great time.’
‘Yeah me too’ he was looking at her face as if he was intoxicated.
‘Say it please’
‘It was really nice, meeting you after such a long time.’
He smiled and paused. ‘Same’
‘Bye then. Goodnight. I’ll call you? If that’s ok?’
‘Yeah yeah sure why not it would be great’
‘ok then. I’ll just go up to my apartment then. Bye’
They waved and Kayra turned and walked to the building. Sanga wondered if she would turn back once. She was just about to enter the lift when she turned, smiled and waved. Sanga waved back. He was happy. Very happy. He had so much to tell Murari.

He stood there enjoying the feeling. His heart seemed to pump blood with a certain essence of happiness. Ever neuron active. Oxytocin running excessively in his veins. He was floating, on the seventh sky.

‘Mother’ he murmured. ‘Mother’ i found her. I finally found her. My bride.’ He had to tell her. His mother would probably be happy for him. But from the beginning, she used to say that Kayra was bad luck for him. He never listened.

He recalled his family. He recalled how everyone tried to keep him away from Kayra.

He had an elder brother, Prithvi. A brother deprived of love. He was academically better than him. He was far more decent than Sanga. Better in every aspect. But their mother loved Sanga more. She could see something in him that no one else did. Sanga had the talent of drawing, painting, art. But he neglected it. His mother knew that someday his talent will become his passion. And it did become his passion. The day he met Kayra, he wanted to draw sketches of her. Paint her face on the white lifeless walls of his room. He remembered. He wanted to draw her now. Surprise her with a sketch of her. It would be great, won’t it?

He turned the key, the engine grumbled, he drove off.

Murari was having an evening nap on the sofa Sanga sneaked into the room and got changed. He took a nap too. They woke up and had dinner and they discussed about the day and Murari gave some tips for their next meeting. They went to sleep then. But Sanga of course like a typical lover stayed up the night thinking about all kinds of things related to Kayra. He then went off the track and started thinking about all the things that had happened in all those years he was away from Kayra. He had to tell her so much. There was so much about his tragic life unknown to her. After they separated things weren’t so good for Sanga. In addition to the depression of losing Kayra and slitting his wrist the big disaster of his parents’ divorce demolished him. His father had decided to completely break the relationship with his mother and marry the woman he actually loved. This completely shattered the hope of the family.

After his father’s second marriage soon they had a baby boy too. At the sight of that boy Sanga’s blood boiled. Things were pretty fucked up for him.

But he didn’t care of course. He was too busy being in love with Kayra. He had to leave Banaras as quickly as possible. He left behind tears and family and came all the way to Delhi only for her.

He had to tell her all this. She would probably cry he thought. She had always been so emotional.

The next day he woke up and the first thing he did after waking up was to call his mother.

‘Maa can you hear me?’
‘yes beta.’
‘I am sorry, i called you after almost a week.’
‘No problem beta i was worried but i knew you were busy and all.’
‘Maa i need to tell you something’
‘Say beta, i am always listening.’
‘I found her….’
‘her who?’
‘Yes maa, we bumped into each other. It’s like fate’s call maa!’
She didn’t say anything.
‘Its good beta.’
‘You don’t seem happy though’
‘I am happy beta, i am’
‘But i can’t feel it in your voice’
There was a pause again.
‘Maa say something. Is something bothering you?’
‘You already know beta’
‘Maa please don’t start all over again with that superstitious stuff. It’s been years! 13 years maa! Get over it. She isn’t bad luck or anything’
‘You don’t see it, you aren’t listening to me’
‘I lover her maa’
‘I know you do, but you must understand that loving her is similar to loving a black cat, an omen.’
‘Maa please stop. She is a nice girl and she has always been so nice to me and so supporting.’
‘You’ll realize soon beta’
‘Maa I thought you’d be happy.’
She didn’t say anything.
‘Bye maa’
‘Bye beta, take care’

He flung the phone on the mattress. And went to the bathroom and looked into the mirror.
‘Is she really bad for me?’
‘What if she is?’
‘Shut up you love her’ he talked to himself.

He got ready to go for office and set off without any delay. Just like this the whole week whooped by swiftly and Sanga and Kayra spent a few minutes chatting everyday. And then once again the plan of an outing was made and this time the person who was going to come with Kayra last time was about to come too. The surprise was about to be revealed. But who knew that the surprise would be a dagger into the chest of Sanga. Sanga had also prepared a surprise for Kayra. He had spent the week looking at the picture of Kayra he had saved from WhatsApp and making sketches of her. When done he chose that one perfect sketch and got it framed, he was planning to gift it to her. But this surprise was not even a quarter of what her surprise was.

‘Sanga! Meet Kunal, my boyfriend.’

The surprise was her boyfriend. She had a boyfriend, Kunal. He was better looking and far more muscular than Sanga. Sanga had worn a formal outfit that day but the boyfriend was all fancily dressed which made Sanga look a bit shabby.

Sanga had no words to say. He was fucked up. His mind was fucked up. Everything was so fucked up for him. He had no idea how to react. He was confused if he should smile or cry out loud right there and then in front of them. Anger gushed down his veins. He suddenly started breathing unusually fast. He used to do it quite often when he got angry and upset.

‘Sanga? Are you alright?’
‘Yes Kayra, i am fine’
‘You don’t seem to be fine.’ said Kunal
‘I said i am fine!’ Sanga said raising his voice.
‘Are you sure sanga? You seem like you are having a fit or something’ Kayra said trying to comfort him.
‘I am fine Kayra.’
The framed sketch in his hands experienced great pressure by his fingers. He was gripping it tight, what he always did when angry.

‘Show me your surprise Sanga’
‘Oh it’s nothing.’

Abruptly Kunal kissed her on the cheek. This was the limit. They ingnored Sanga. Sanga’s grip tightened and tightened by each second. Finally the glass succumbed to the force and shattered. His thumbed was cut and it bled badly. He didn’t say anything and got up and left. And as soon as he got out of the restaurant he threw aside the sketch and walked off very fast and boarded the pulsar and drove off. Kayra immediately noticed and tried to stop him but her tries failed. She ran but Sanga didn’t stop. He blocked it out. He was extremely angry. She picked up the sketch and unwrapped it. She looked at it and recalled the first sketch Sanga had made of her. It was perfect, like a glazed mirror. He was out of sight but still she looked around. The shattered glass told her he was angry, that he probably had some hatred for her now.

The bike accelerated just like his heart. As the wind pierced his eyes, tears rolled down. “13 years! 13 years Kayra! Were 13 years enough for your love to change?” He didn’t know where to go or what to do. But of course a distressed man’s destination is always either his mother’s lap or a bar. Out of the two he only had the bar. He spent the rest of the day drunk. Sitting on random benches, he cried, groaned and screamed out her name. Such sudden change. He didn’t go back home that night. He spent the night on a sidewalk, passed out, on the puddle of his own urine and vomit.
‘Why? Why? Why? Kayra why?’ he repeated.

The next day with surging pain in his head he woke up on the same sidewalk. Drunkards are a common site, people weren’t bothered at all. His own stench disgusted him. He sat there for a while composing himself planning his next move, checking his pockets. Thankfully nothing was missing. Perhaps one thing was. The essence of happiness in his blood. He felt worthless and motiveless all over again. But this time it was even greater. Before, he had a destination, Kayra. But now that he had found that destination, he got to know that that destination is no more his. Fucked up as he was he got back to his feet, and quickly drove off back home.

He stood in the bathroom in front of the mirror conversing with his conscience.

‘I won’t meet her. I can’t face her. I can’t hurt her again. She is probably happy with that man.’

‘But you fucking spent 13 long years waiting for her! You deserve better. That bitch has to treat you better’

‘Stop. Stop calling her that.’

‘You are a bastard Sanga. Weakling, you aren’t a man.’

‘If being a man means forcing my love into her then i am not, thank you.’

He got himself cleaned up. He noticed his beard growing. He hadn’t shaved in several days. ‘should i shave?’ he asked himself. He thought Kayra wouldn’t like him like this. ‘Fuck it, who gives a shit.’

Murari knew something was wrong but he didn’t ask him yet. The book of rules for handling an angry Sanga said that one shouldn’t bug him much at a moment like this, he shall express himself according to his comfort and desire, so one should simply wait for the right moment. He hadn’t touched his phone since he passed out. Kayra was worried. Surprisingly there were 43 misscalls by her, did she really care? Sanga decided to ignore her. This was best for her he thought. He was in great pain. But just like the typical Sanga, he would give himself more pain and tell no one about it.

Monday came and the normal lifestyle continued, the same way to office and the same way back home. They met at the café again but Sanga didn’t react, she was completely out of his sight, he acted as if he didn’t even know her. Kayra was confused why was he acting like this. The watch on his wrist was missing. He had actually resisted himself from wearing that watch. He was trying very hard now. He hadn’t even talked to Murari yet, so what was Kayra for him?

This kept up for several days, and even weeks. But at some point Sanga broke down. He refused to go to work. He spent his day at home filling himself with alcohol. His hair was unkempt his beard was growing wild. Kayra still called him once or twice a day but he never even checked his phone. He sat at a corner singing songs and writing poems that didn’t make the slightest sense. The television was his knew best friend. He had completely cut off communication with Murari too. In the same house they lived but no word. He was hurting himself more and more. Kayra finally decided to go to his house. She had to confront him and ask him what the problem was. She probably already knew what the problem was but still she was not sure if that was the problem because it had been so many years, she thought it was probably something else.

She knocked on the door and took a deep breath. Murari opened the door. They had met once again several weeks ago.

‘Yes? Oh Kayra’
‘Murari, is Sanga home?’
‘Yes he is’ he turned back and called out for him. ‘Sanga!’
He didn’t reply as usual.
‘Sanga it’s Kayra!’
His stomach lurched. After a few minutes he came walking in a sly manner looking at the floor. He looked similar to a beggar. His beard and hair completely unkempt and a strange musty stench came from him.
Kayra was shocked to see him like this. Murari excused himself and went back inside and left them alone.

‘What have you made of yourself Sanga!’
He didn’t reply.
‘Say something where have you been? What are doing? I have been se worried.’
‘You don’t have to be’
Those words pierced her heart like hot knives.
‘What are saying? Why are being like that? What have i done?’
‘So why are you punishing me like this?’
‘I am not punishing anyone’
‘You haven’t talked to me in weeks. You never reply to the hundreds of texts i send you. You don’t receive my calls. What is this then if not a punishment? You are avoiding me Sanga’
‘Yes maybe i am.’
‘i don’t know’
‘You been drinking all these days. You haven’t shaved. You haven’t bathed. You don’t come to office. What are you trying to do Sanga?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘What do you know then!?’
‘I just know that i am not happy.’
‘Why is that? Sanga tell me please’
He didn’t talk for a few seconds
‘You should go back Kayra’
‘Pushing me away then?’
‘No. Just saying what’s good for you’
‘You don’t decide what’s good for me!’
‘Please Kayra, go home and let me be’ he joined his palms and requested.
‘No. I am not leaving until you tell me’
‘Fine. We’ll meet tomorrow’
‘Now go’
‘I’ll be here by 11 tomorrow morning then’
‘Yeah fine’
Sanga just nodded his head and closed the door shut. Kayra was hurt. But Sanga’s wound was bigger, deeper and more painful.

Sanga tidied himself. Bathed, shaved and shampooed his hair. After a long span of weeks he was finally again looking like a civilized homo sapien. The next day he got dressed and wore the watch, because he had to tell her today. He had to expose his feelings to her once and for all. It had to be done one day, so let this day be the one. She reached the compound at exactly 11. They walked in the compound itself. And Kayra started the conversation.

‘I reframed the sketch you made’
‘You should have thrown it away.’
This completely opposite behavior of Sanga really hurt Kayra. Those stone cold words came out his mouth with the least difficulty. It was as if Sanga was purposely being like this.
‘I kept it. It’s precious for me.’
After a pause Sanga looked at her.
‘Kayra. I need to tell you some things about my life. About what happened after you left’
Kayra didn’t speak she nodded and focussed all her attention to him.
‘So after you left. Things weren’t the same of course. I broke down Kayra. I am gonna admit it to you that i completely broke down. Nothing seemed to make me happy. I hurt my family, and myself even more. I slit my wrist and spent some time in the ICU. The demolition escalated quite quickly thereafter. Father filed for a divorce and my parents broke up after that.’
Kayra couldn’t speak. Sanga knew she wouldn’t speak so he went on.
‘Then he did a second marriage. His new wife had a baby boy. He gave him my grandfather’s name Kundan, the name we never got. They name, for which he said me and my brother were unworthy.’
He looked and smiled
‘Well then of course maa had to start working. Prithvi bhaiya also soon got a job. I was deemed to be useless back then. A useless and reckless hoodlum. Almost everyone started despising me. They said i was the black sheep. But nothing hurt me much really. I was too busy healing the scar you gave me.’
Kayra was sobbing already.
‘But I knew you had your reasons. People told you a lot of stuff. They filled your head with superstitions too. You hated me for what i did to Kritaksh. You hated yourself, because my family said you were a bad omen for me. It was all a lie Kayra, all superstitious stuff. They were too old fashioned. Who believes this shit now?’ Sanga laughed and then continued again.
‘And then as soon as i graduated i left Banaras and came all the way to Delhi with Murari. He was against you as well. So i had to lie, i had to tell him that we were here because we like it here. But truly….i was here for you Kayra. I was here in the hope that i might find you again. 13 years i waited, only for you. 13 years my love kept increasing day by day. I worshipped you Kayra. I loved you.’
He showed her the watch.
‘And i still do, more than anything. I never let this stay away from me. This watch is the most precious treasure of mine. And that day, you introduced me to your boyfriend. You made a boyfriend. 13 years were enough for your love to change?’
Kayra still sobbed
‘Sanga, i am sorry for everything that happened to you, you have gone through a lot, but we were kids back then. That wasn’t love. It was infatuation.’
‘No. It was love. I loved you with all my heart Kayra’
‘Sanga we should move on. We were kids back then!’
‘Do you love him?’
‘Look me in the eye and said that’
She couldn’t speak.
‘Sanga. Look. What your family said was true alright. We are fire and water. We can’t stay together. I hurt you. You hurt me. There just too much pain Sanga! And we were kids back then. That wasn’t even love.’
‘I didn’t expect this from you Kayra’
After a long pause, she wiped off her tears and looked at him and smiled weakly.
‘Let’s be friends Sanga. That’s what we can and we should be.’
Sanga kept quiet
‘I’ll call you later. I’ll get going now. Bye Sanga’
Sanga still didn’t say anything. She walked away still crying. She was really moved by the tragic story of Sanga’s. Sanga really did go through a lot. But he probably survived because of the hope and courage he got from her.

He heard the sound of people shouting and screaming and the breaking of glass and banging of metal. It was a riot. Kayra had left the compound. He ran for her.

‘Kayra! No! Lookout’
She turned back and saw him running towards her. The riot was getting closer to her. But the time he reached her a bulb full of acid was already thrown up in the air. He covered her and the bulb broke on his back, spilling the acid. He screamed in pain but he had no time, he held her hand and ran as fast he could into the compound with her. They were in now. They quickly went into his apartment. Murari was completely baffled he had no idea what to do. He called the ambulance. But but the time the ambulance came Sanga had past out, out of pain.

He was still passed out for several hours and during those hours Murari talked to Kayra about the incident with Kritaksh .

‘Kayra, what do you know about the incident with Kritaksh?’
‘I don’t wanna talk about it’
‘This is important. You have to know something. Something Sanga never mentioned.’
‘What would that be?’
‘First tell me what you know about that incident’
‘Only that Sanga was very jealous of Kritaksh and he had great enmity against him or something. That’s why he chopped his fingers of with an axe.’
‘No. That’s not the truth’
Kayra’s face went pale
‘Kayra the truth is that, there surely was rivalry between them. But Kritaksh was stalking you. He also attempted to take an MMS of you but Sanga prevented it from happening. He decided not to tell you so that you stay tension free. And that day, Kritaksh was there to rape you, with 6 of his friends. Sanga couldn’t bear it anymore. You know how angry he can get. He almost killed 4 of them. He couldn’t get a hold of himself and he took an axe made Kritaksh answer 10 questions and for each question answered wrong he would have had cut of a finger. And Kritaksh unfortunately though that Sanga was messing around. But Sanga was going to do it for real. Kritaksh’s all the answers wrong and at the end Sanga chopped all his fingers off and told him to stay away from you.
Kayra was shocked.
‘This spread very quickly. And all other guys who thought bad about you were warned. He didn’t mean to do anything bad Kayra. If he hadn’t been there you would have had been….. He just overdid it, he loved you so much.’
Kayra’s heart was in her throat. She couldn’t think of anything to say. Her mind was tangled. She tried untangling it. And finally she realized that all these years she hated him for something he didn’t do. He only protected her, only that he overdid it. He loved her.

She walked up to the door and through the glass she could see Sanga motionless and unconscious. She had punished him for something he wasn’t responsible for, and she probably even separated from him because of the most stupid and unreal superstition of a few people. She was guilty. Now she was thinking that Sanga was subjected to all of this insult because of her. She was really bad for him she thought.

‘That’s one reason less to not love him again.’ said Murari. ‘Kayra look. I know that earlier even i told Sanga to stay away from you. But the truth is that even if you are bad for him, if your presence hurts him, your absence doesn’t do any good either. I’ve seen how he spent those years without you. Give this a second chance Kayra. He needs you badly’

“it has started Kayra. The catastrophic effects of the two of you staying together has started. An acid burn now and probably death ahead. If you want him alive, stay away from him” she told herself.

‘Murari, everyone was one hundred percent right. I am bad for him’ she took one last look at him ‘I must stay away from him’ she said and silently walked out of the hospital, away from him.

Murari had no other option than to let her go. He had to handle Sanga alone now.

Soon Sanga got back to his senses and then he talked to his mother first. She was worried for her son she was going to come there soon, very soon. Kayra didn’t even visit him once. Murari didn’t say anything to Sanga about the conversation he had had with Kayra. Whenever Sanga asked if Kayra was alright and why hasn’t she come to meet him yet, Murari would abruptly change the topic and talk about something completely different. After almost a month he was discharged. And yet he had not received even a single call or text from Kayra. He was depressed again. His mother went back to Banaras and now he was back on his own.

He had to go through the same routine all over again and this time he wasn’t the one ignoring Kayra but it was her ignoring him. He sent her texts and called her everyday but she refused to reply. She didn’t even tell him if she was alright. He wanted to check up on her. But for some reason he didn’t have enough the courage to go up to her house and knock on the door asking if she was alright. They used to see each other at the café and the secret was that Kayra would always check if he had come to work. Weeks past by like this without any contact. Well they were almost used to it by now.

Then again one day a grave call came. Prithvi had called Sanga. The news was a spear through the heart. Their mother had had a heart attack, and her condition was extremely critical. He told him to go home as soon as possible. Sanga didn’t wait and he set off immediately.

Kayra noticed his absence and got to know about what happened. She was worried too.

But by the time he got there she had already passed away. She was brought back home and relatives were informed. Most of the relatives were there by now. She had to be cremated soon. Sanga told Murari to get there fast and Murari in turn conveyed the message to Kayra. Just like Sanga, Kayra was broken to hear the news. Murari and Kayra went to Banaras together.

They reached there, the next day.

They hugged each other.
‘Did she call?’
‘I told her.’
‘What did she say?’
Murari paused ‘See for yourself’
‘Its alright i didn’t expect her to come.’

With half-steps she walked over the threshold, sobbing violently. She ran and hugged Sanga tightly. Nothing had to be said. Hearts synchronized. Sanga understand what her eyes said and Kayra understood what his silence said.

The look on Sanga’s face was dreadful. He looked so miserable. His eyes red, the marks of tears rolling down on his cheeks still visible.

They held hands the rest of the time. Kayra didn’t let him be alone. She followed him wherever he went and she comforted him. He was calm for only this one reason, her presence.

It had only been a day since her death when another commotion started. Prithvi was talking about why their mother died among all the relatives and family members.

‘It was you Sanga. You know that?’ said Prithvi calmly.
‘It was you. The reason for all this’
‘What are you talking about?’
‘Mother’s death you idiot’
‘What? You are saying she died because of me?’ Sanga voice was raised.
‘Yes!’ Prithvi said and stood up.
‘You can’t blame me for this!’
‘Oh yes I can little brother. All this was your doing. You were the devil from the beginning’
‘What are you talking about? How does that even make sense?’
‘You knew she loved you the most and yet you left her.’
‘I had no choice!’
‘You always had a choice Sanga!’
‘Prithvi you cannot blame me for this!’
‘You tell me. Didn’t you get job offers here?’
‘Yes i did so what?’
‘so what you ask? You could have stayed here Sanga! Instead of leaving!’
‘Oh come on brother don’t tell me she died because of this.’
‘Yes she did Sanga.’
‘This wasn’t the only time you neglected the family.’
‘Where is this going!?’
‘It’s going on the right path brother. You put the family’s reputation on the line by almost killing that boy Kritaksh. You remember that? Or have you forgotten? Mother was really hurt because of that brother.’
Sanga couldn’t say anything back.
‘Silent now huh? I am not stopping now brother. I am gonna release all the grudges i have for you. When father left us you didn’t care to comfort mother did you? No. Because you were too busy crying over this girl!’ he said pointing at Kayra
Their father was also present there with his family, he felt uncomfortable. Kayra couldn’t say anything, she could only listen.
‘Sanga. You sacrificed our family for this girl. You chose her over everything else. That’s what you did wrong. That’s why you are the reason for mother’s death.’
‘You can’t blame me for this!’ Sanga said and got up and pushed Prithvi away. Things got heated up Prithvi got back up and punched Sanga. They brawled in front of everyone. Kayra pulled Sanga aside.
‘Please don’t fight!’ Kayra said
‘You don’t interfere between us girl!’ Prithvi said out loud.
‘Bhaiya please! It wasn’t his fault you cannot blame him for anything. All this had to happen that’s why it happened’
‘Shut up and take him away if you really want to help.’
She pulled him by the hand. ‘Sanga let’s go please. Let this cool down. Please Sanga let’s go to your room.’

They went up to Sanga’s room and Kayra calmed him down. He didn’t leave the room that day.

The days went by and soon Prithvi and Sanga got there hair shaved. Prithvi was done and then was Sanga’s turn, the long hair was gone in minutes. The barber left a little bit of hair at the back symbolizing that the father is still alive. But Sanga took the razor from him and shaved that bit of hair too. Every single person present there, was shocked to see that. His father was there too, and he really wanted an explanation for this.

‘My father’s dead too’ Sanga said.
Prithvi and Sanga looked at each nodded lightly and Prithvi took the razor from and shaved his bit of hair as well.
‘Not only your’s brother, our father’s dead’
Prithvi helped Sanga up and hugged him.
‘I am sorry bhai’
‘It’s okay bhaiya.’
Their father was speechless. He felt bad. He was hurt. But it was the result his own wrongdoing.

The funeral proceeded. Prithvi administered everything and took special care of every single guest and Kayra helped out too. But Sanga was sitting in front his mother’s picture, talking to it.

‘Maa. Tu kyu chhor gayi mujhe?’
He started sobbing.
‘I am all alone now. Nothing seems to be the same anymore. Why did you go? You had to see my children maa. You had to dance at my marriage. You had to see my wife. You had to see me become a father maa. Why did you leave so early?’
He smiled now.
‘I imagined a family of mine, with Kayra, and twins. You’d have loved them so much. All our sadness would have had been warded off. You should have stayed longer maa, i feel so lonely now.’

He got back up and walked away. The day ended and the guests left. The house was empty again. Not many people were left. It seemed lonely.

That night Sanga had a dream, where his mother came.

‘Maa is that you?’
‘Maa!’ he ran to her. He was a child again. He hugged her tight. They were in his school, all alone. They walked, hand in hand.
‘Say beta’
‘What is this?’
‘A realm where anything can happen.’
‘Maa i have questions.’
‘I am here to answer them beta’
‘What should i do?’
‘I’ll only tell you one thing, follow your heart. Do what i didn’t do, follow your heart. Hear what it says, obey it’s command.’
‘But maa my heart’s confused.’
‘Just listen to your heart. Even if it’s confused it’ll always tell you the right thing to do.’

They walked and walked for a long while. Sanga wanted to keep walking and never let go of her hand but the time came when she had to leave.

‘I must go now beta.’
‘Don’t leave me’
‘I never will son, i am always here’ she put her palm on Sanga’s little chest, over the little beating heart.
‘Maa… I Love you’
‘I know you do so, stay happy’

The vision faded away. He woke up. It was one of those dreams that family members have after the death of family member. He smiled.

He gave the horses of his brain a run and came to conclusion that. Kayra is happy with Kunal. He should move on and let her be. He wanted to come back home to Banaras. The decision was abrupt and very hard to take but he had to take it.

‘Murari! Oopar aah jaldi!’ he screamed.
‘Kya hua? What happened?’ he came up to his room
‘Murari, do you wanna come back home? Back to Banaras?’
‘What? How’
‘By shifting back here and resigning our jobs idiot’
‘But why all of a sudden?’
‘Do you want to do it or not just tell me’
‘Yeah sure why not!’
Sanga smiled.
‘You love me more than Kayra does don’t you? Let’s get married’
‘Chutiya!’ Murari said and hit him with a pillow and they broke into laughter.

Sanga went to Kayra and told her that they were leaving for Delhi the next day.

‘Bhaiya! I am coming back home! I am coming back to Banaras!’
‘What really?’ asked Prithvi
‘Yes Bhaiya!’
‘That’s great!’
‘Yes I know right!’

Kayra heard this and asked him what it was all about.

‘Kayra, i have decided to get back home with Murari. We have spent too many days away from home now, we want to come back.’
‘Yes we are going to resign from our jobs and shift back here to Banaras. Great right?’
‘Y-Yeah it’s great’ she stammered.

Sanga went to his room and started packing up his bag. He was very excited, or if he was pretending to be excited then he was acting very well.

The next day they left for Delhi. After reaching Delhi they dropped Kayra to her home and they quickly arranged for the arrangements for their stuff and furniture to be transported all the way to Banaras. They were super excited to go back home.

Just the next day they gave in their resignation letters and on the same day all their belongings and furniture was sent off to Banaras. They only had to pay the rent of the apartment one last time and go back home now.

Kayra was very stressed, Sanga was leaving him this time. Maybe she should stop him and tell him the truth. But this is what she wanted. She wanted him to go away from her. But what was this feeling that groped her heart, as if something very priceless was in the process of being taken away from her. She had to do it now or never. She had to stop him now.

2 days later they were about to leave. Kayra only had this one last chance to confront him once and for all. Just like in a typical Bollywood movie she got at the station at the very critical moment when the train was just about to leave. She screamed out his name and they stopped, she prevented them from boarding the train.
She ran and hugged Sanga and they fell over. Lying on the ground in between all the crowd they kissed. The most passionate kiss. There were tears in her eyes. They got back up.

‘Sanga, i have to tell you something.’
‘I love you!’
Sanga screamed out of joy.
‘Sanga, look at this!’ she showed him the bracelet on her right hand. ‘I always kept it with me Sanga! I loved you the way you loved me! All this boyfriend story was a lie. I don’t have a boyfriend! And that guy’s name is not even Kunal! Sanga i Love you! You are my king and i am your queen. That day in the café i recognized you before you noticed me! I had to lie about everything to keep you away from me, while actually I remembered everything. Sanga, 13 years are not enough to change my love for you, because it’s for eternity!’
‘My queen! Why did you lie!’
‘I didn’t want you to get in trouble’
‘But still you did’
They laughed and hugged each other.
‘Sanga, i wanna come with you’
‘Promise me you’ll never ever leave me!’
‘I promise! I never!’
Sanga kissed her on the forehead and embraced her. Murari smiled and started clapping, all of the crowd joined in. A typical Bollywood scene.

Thereafter they got married. It was a slightly difficult journey but eventually after a few months of coaxing Kayra’s parents consented to their marriage, it was after all the question of their daughter’s happiness, if she really was so very happy with Sanga then let it be the way she wants it to be. Prithvi and the rest of the family accepted Kayra with open arms and got rid of the superstition. Kayra was actually a lucky charm for the family. Everything started fixing itself all of sudden just as they got married. Both the family’s were now used to it and they were happy about Sanga and Kayra. The happiness was finally back.

19 years later. They had twins, a boy and a girl. The boy got the name of Kayra’s father, Prakash and the girl got the name of Sanga’s mother, Phalguni. Old fashioned names, but the children were proud of those names.

‘Yes son’
‘I need some advice’
‘About Sapna right?’
‘How did you know her name?’
‘I am your father bacchu’
‘Yes so the thing is that we don’t get along. We always hurt each other so much, we fight so much!’
Sanga smiled, after a pause Prakash found the right words to explain it to his father.
‘Yes! We are—we are like fire and water!’
Sanga smiled wide now.
‘So i was thinking maybe I should forget about her and let her be and break up or something. What should i do father?’
Sanga took a deep breath. Held Prakash by the shoulders and said.
‘Son, let me tell you something. FIRE and WATER are meant to be together, always.’


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