Something I came up with
Karan’s calls became far less frequent after that glass of Coke in the Great Punjab. His responses to my calls were laconic and vaguely apologetic – “Sorry, dude. Can’t meet you today. Gotta take Akruti to a doctor,” – and the like. I couldn’t complain, after all I had an idea of what the guy was probably going through. Of course, the time away from Karan allowed me to try and concentrate on my books (although as my Semester 6 marksheet would suggest, it wasn’t nearly enough).
One of the unique features of Symbi Law (and there were quite a few) was it’s insistence on conducting semester examinations approximately a month prior to all other faculties. That way, we got to curse our luck when we’d be nose-diving into our books while others would be making party plans in the NCC Canteen, and conversely, we’d be playing up the fact that our exams were long over by the time the others got their respective GPLs (full form loosely translates to ‘kicks in the posterior’). Fortunately for me, I was what was derisively referred to as a ‘localite’, with a home and family in Pune, so the effect of having to study while others continued gallivanting was far less on me than for my unfortunate peers whose hostels presented no entertainment or seclusion. And so it went on till the last day of my exams.
After my final paper, I sat chatting in the NCC with one or two batchmates, amidst the throng of smoking law students getting set for the all-night ‘booze-n-more’ parties. The prospect of puking my guts out at 4 a.m. was never a cause of much excitement for me, and somehow the charm of having women around, dancing and moving as only women do, would quickly and drastically diminish at the thought of them puking their guts out at any hour. At that point I was really looking forward to shaving off a hideous goatee that had managed to grow onto my face, a product of a few weeks of no shaving, and a good night’s sleep after ages. I was suddenly reminded of Karan (whose shaving habits were highly irregular) and I gave him a call.
When he answered, his voice had some of the cheerfulness of old. That was a relief, as ever since his conversation with Mo so many days earlier, he had always sounded rather strained. We decided to meet at Scorpio Net near Akruti’s place.
When I saw him, his face looked somewhat weary, but he greeted me with his usual enthusiasm. After the obligatory general chit-chat, I asked him about Akruti and was relieved to know she was doing quite well of late. She’d stopped assaulting herself, and was hanging out with friends, doing routine things again. Karan was still spending a lot of time with her, but she was a lot more stable now.
I then asked him about MJ. He looked at me with a wistful smile and said that she was fine, although he hadn’t seen her in a while. He had told her about Akruti’s condition, and she’d asked him to do what he had to do. I felt bad for him, but I wasn’t sure of how deep his involvement with Akruti had become of late, so I didn’t say anything. She was, after all, an object of intense emotions for him. Perhaps, if they were to ever be together, this was the starting point.
One often spends large amounts of time with a person without ever getting to know his true feelings on something that might affect him. We spend years with our siblings, our friends, maybe even our spouses, thinking we know all there is to know, and all of a sudden, something happens that opens a whole new aspect of their minds to us, one that might catch us completely by surprise. Several years later, I was to find Karan’s battered old notebook in which he used to write poetry, prose and thoughts while still in college, lying buried somewhere amidst other nostalgic paraphernalia. On one page were written the following lines in his handwriting:
“Karan, I’m glad I never said ‘yes’ to you. You showed me that I still can’t trust men. But you also showed me that I can’t expect someone to wait too long for me to say ‘yes’ - MJ”
Below it were written the words “No failures, no regrets”.
But the two “No”s had been scratched out.