Thu sach mein meri Saya hein yaar’ I would always tell her this and it doesn’t drive her crazy, though almost every other thing would make her mad. And I always am true about that statement; she is my ‘Saya’, my ‘shadow’. It’s like her father chose her the right name.
We met from high school. She was my lab partner for 2 years, that is how we made it close. On my first day at school, I have noticed her walking through the veranda. It was some kind of fun to watch, she is this all crazy, childish girl. I should say this, I adored her at the first sight, not only because she had that gorgeous little smile which bought her dimple into light, but because she was mad and mischievous in her own adorable way.
And when our professor put us together as a team, my friend wished me good luck with that mess of a girl. I didn’t know that there was a future coming for both of us, me and that stupid girl.
She flashed me with a stupid, cute smile, she could go sarcastic even with her smile, and she was like, ‘come buddy, I will take you to hell’. And being a gentleman, I shook hands with her as that seemed the right thing to do.
And the first day was not like I expected it to be, she was talking and talking and never really shutting her mouth. Professor warned us two times in a row and it was like we were going to be out by the next few minutes. I tried my best not to listen to her, but you have no idea, how interesting she is and i couldn’t resist listening to her. In short words, I messed up my first lab that year, and was out in less than half hour. I wanted to blame her, but she was laughing breathlessly that i too couldn’t help laughing.
‘Come on, let’s go’ she said and threw my bag at me. I followed her like a puppy and we ended up in the huge front lawn of our school, she sat under a tree and started eating a chocolate. Nothing was making any sense. I have always seen girls crying for being fired by professors and this girl was all cool about the whole situation.
She offered me a chocolate, but I was not in the right mood, I was really worried about my grades, seriously, i was being a girl there, not her, she was like musing every single second as it’s her last. At last i ended sitting near her and listening to her crap that was interesting after all. Believe it or not, I met her that day and i knew almost everything about her, even her favourite teacher. Her talking was that informative. Now, it’s obvious how much she talks.
It was our last hour and we walked together after school, when she reached near her bus, she said, ‘So, I will see you tomorrow at school, Krish’. Honestly, i gave that girl a lot of thoughts that night, there was something special in her which caught me by heart. I don’t talk about all girls to my mom, but i told about her to mom and she also ended up laughing, she too wanted to meet her some day.
‘Hey Krish, want some chocolates?’ that was how she greeted me that day. And yeah, this time I took the chocolate and yeah that was real good.
‘Actually I sacrificed my chocolate to you’ she said and i was like holding the chocolate half way to my mouth and staring at her in surprise.
‘What?’ I asked and i was nearly laughing because i knew there was something funny coming.
‘My dad allows me 5 chocolates a week and i gave you one, now you do the math’ wow! She was serious about that? I wanted to laugh out and I did.
‘What?’ she asked out of wonder, you should have seen that expression of hers at that time, it was real funny and childish.
‘Seriously Saya?, a budget for chocolate?’ i asked and she shook her head
‘Don’t worry, i will buy you when you run out of money, ok?’
‘cool’ by that she walked away and i saw her high fiving with her friends and dancing into the class.
We grew close in less than a week, I met her parents and she met mine, they had some relations which we were not aware of. My father is a doc by the way, cardiologist, he was a popular doctor who was always busy, but i love him a great deal, he is my best buddy, we would play beach volleyball, hang out in weekends and all that stuff and my mom was so adorable. All in all, i had a happy family.
Our high school went just that way and we graduated with good grades, obviously she topped me. And we decided to go to college together; we went for a bachelor degree as med school was not a choice at all. Actually I had business in mind, but being a doc’s son, i was forced to go health science and I took it happily as I loved my dad. The pact was I go science for 3 more years and i get full freedom to choose my masters, if i am ever doing masters, it would be business administration as I am already done with the science thing, it is not my kinda thing. At least i gave it a try and my father should be satisfied, that would be enough.
And college was fun, the funniest part is, we still were lab partners, why lab? We share our books too, obviously she does the writing stuff, preparations for exam and I had nothing left to do, though I always want to have good grades, i get lazy all the times and give up. And about her, she was rather lazy than me, and never touches book until the exam and sleeps a lot, even on exam days. But still she was brave and always scored the highest mark in class. I was jealous of her being there.
And boys in college are jealous of me and the girls of her, because she was this good looking girl, available for nobody, and I was the stunning guy who was available for everybody. They were jealous because I never stay long with anybody, but her. We come as a package deal, like they say. She was this only girl whom I don’t flirt with, because she wouldn’t understand that I am flirting. She was that stupid at times.
There are advantages by having a girl as friend. She would force me to church on Sunday, though i try my best to ditch. And she always managed to take me away from alcohols, first she would shout and then she would beg and then she would cry and it is all done, i can’t stand emotions, especially her tears. So i ended up on having beers which was allowed only on weekends, that too non-alcoholic at times. And there would be someone to worry for us and she would stand by my side at all situations, i always had someone to relay upon.
Our life was going just fine and we were having a good time at college and that is when she met with an accident on the way to her home from college, she used to come with me every day and unfortunately that day she took a taxi as she was mad at me for some reason. I was mad at her and didn’t take her calls.
And that was when i received a call from her Dad telling me that she was hospitalised. I told myself that everything would be right and that it would be a small crash which bought her small bruises on her legs, and I was really scared and was sorry that I fought with her and send her home in a taxi instead of taking her myself. I chanted prayers honestly for the first time of my life and rushed into the hospital.
I was there after 4 hours of the accident, only then i knew about it. If we were not fighting, i should have known, because she would text me always and when I fail to see her texts I would call or text.
She was already in the room when i reached and i met her dad from outside and the worst was waiting for me there. Her accident was real gross and she was really hurt, she had wounds on legs and arms and had hit her head hard and lost a lot of blood and the worst, she lost her sight. She was blind.
The fact hit me, she can no longer see me, see nothing, she was afraid of dark and now she has to face it all her life, i wanted to weep or cry out loud, a lump formed in my throat.
‘Did she know?’ i choked out
‘Yeah she did, and she never stopped crying, doc gave her some sedatives that she would get some time to deal with it’ her always enthusiastic dad explained to me in a weird way and i knew he too wanted to cry.
I saw my Saya sleeping peacefully and I felt dried tears on her cheeks. I couldn’t think how hard it would be on her. She couldn’t see this light again, I closed my eyes and that darkness scared me off. I had a vision of her laughing without control on the first day we met. I wanted my best friend to do that again, I wanted some miracles to happen. I watched her sleep for hours and fell into a sleep near her.
When I woke up in the morning, she was not there, the bed was empty and that scared me off, i wanted her in my sight, i wanted to take care of her and never get her out of my sight that she would get into trouble again. After watching the panic on my face, her mom explained her being took away for the diagnosis.
And I met her in the room again, we were alone and I watched her sitting all dull, this was not the Saya i knew of, my Saya never managed to keep her mouth shut, this was completely somebody else, i watched with pain her eyes fixed into the same direction for a long time. Every other second made me more aware of the fact. She didn’t knew i was there and if she knew too there wouldn’t be a ‘hey there, buddy’
‘Hey there, Saya’ i said as enthusiastic as possible, i was trying to be her to bring her back and i knew that I would fail, that was not the right time, but i didn’t wanted to be emotional and cry with her.
‘Krish’ she whispered and that was all she said, i watched her eyes go all misty and that was really aching. I went and sat near her and took her hands in mine.
‘Still mad at me?’ i asked as soft as possible
‘No’ she answered and that was not her, she never was satisfied with single word answers
I stayed silent for some time and she did too and we sat like that, her hand in mine and she was so cold and pale, i didn’t knew what to do, what to say.
‘Can you see me Saya, those beautiful eyes, funny nose and curved lips?’ i asked, trying to be as pleasant as possible and that was hard.
‘I am blind’ she said and that was all she said, with no emotions and her eyes fixed somewhere.
‘Come on, give it a try’
‘I am blind Krish and this is serious, deal with the fact’ she shouted at me and she was crying at the same time; that crushed my heart so badly. That i couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. I hugged her tight and wept like a small girl. I cried it all out and she cried with me. I was helpless, i had nothing left to do, and I can’t even give my eyes as she had her problems with veins. It was very hard on me and i couldn’t help it. I felt her patting my back, i should have been the one to do it and she was still caring, after all which happened to her. What more can i ask to god, when he gave me this friend which i can’t explain in words. And now i was very angry as he did this to the sweetest girl i ever met in my life.
I sat outside my apartment by watching the stars, me and Saya used to do it almost all the time, and now she couldn’t watch the stars. We would talk from there and she would write her stuff while i would disturb her with my guitar. Though my music is the ugliest ever, she would appreciate and say ‘well done, rock star’.
And i would tell her ‘Wah Shayer, aap jaado karthi hein’ and she would get mad at me because she thinks that i am making fun of her, that was not fun, by the way, she could do magic with her words. If i am ever goanna compose music, she would write the lines for me.
My thread of thoughts was disturbed by my dad’s pat on my shoulder. I turned to see my dad’s disturbed face. He was this kind of person, who always stayed happy and enthusiastic and a change on his face that took a negative change happens as rare of the rarest.
‘Hey dad’ i said as i had nothing else to say.
‘You want some dinner?’ he asked. He never asked questions like that to me, he would be all cool and would always ask questions like ‘hey champ, what’s up?’
‘I am not hungry’ my answers were also not the usual and i wasn’t supposed to be the usual then, after all that happened very suddenly to the person i cared the most.
‘Krish, it’s ok for you to cry, don’t hold it back, let it come out’ he said, like he was reading my mind completely. I stayed silent and he continued
‘I too was a boy like you back then, Krish and my friends used to make fun of me by saying that I am a mommy boy and that I cry like girls and honestly I never was embarrassed of myself. They didn’t know how it felt to be a mommy boy and how it felt when we finally cry out our feelings’ he paused and i was looking down, his words bought a war inside my heart and brain and i was too overwhelmed to look up and i felt my eyes wet.
‘I love you dad’ that is all i said and then i was on him, he was hugging me tight against his well made body and i felt his love all over my heart. He is the dad who every son would wish to have; god has done everything right to me since that night. That simple comfort from him was enough for me, maybe i was a mommy boy, but there was this feeling i got which not all other boys get like my dad said.
I went to see Saya the next day and she was all ready to go home, i wanted to take her home and i did. She was silent all along and her favourite song played in the car, she didn’t even notice that. That song has always done that job and now she was somewhere else and was lost. I felt immense pain inside me and i tried hard not to become emotional again. That is not what she wanted; though she may wish for that, it was not goanna bring her back.
And then i visited her every day. Her father said that she was not making much improvement and that she always wished to stay on her own. When i go visit her i would sit with her and talk and she was silent all along. But she was listening, i knew.
‘I am not coming to college anymore, Krish’ she said one day and i was shocked to hear her talk and what she talked was crap. There was no way I am letting her ditch the college. Whatever happens i was goanna take her to college like usual after the Christmas holidays.
‘No, you are going’ I said, maybe i sounded harsh, but that was fine.
‘I can’t’ she sounded helpless, but i was not goanna give up
‘You are a good listener Saya, you still will make the topper and i will help you’
‘It is not easy, Krish’
‘And you have to deal with it, we did passed through many difficulties and let it come, we will face it and you are strong enough’
‘I am not sure about that anymore’ she said and at last i did convince her to go to college and also to take a walk along the beach.
We walked through the beach, her hands in mine and at that time of night, the beach was almost empty and peaceful. There was no other sounds than some distant horning of cars and soft sound of waves. She was taking it all in, all minute sounds and when i lifted her, she insisted on walking so that she could feel the sand under her feet. It was pleasant for me to watch her walking and breeze taking her hair up.
At that moment i knew, she was not just a friend, there was something more than that between us. We were inseparable and there was some invisible bond and that can’t possibly be made just by friendship. And i couldn’t resist staying with her all the time. For the first time in my life, i noticed that my best friend was very beautiful. I needed time to sort all that out. I couldn’t get any sense of what was happening inside my head, but at some point i did knew what was going on in my heart. I was in love with my best friend and i knew it started all at the beginning and that i was not ready to accept the fact then, i was scared, what if i lose her and maybe i was too proud, to accept that i was in love like all my other friends or maybe i was confused with the friendship thing.
And then i didn’t want to spare a minute, i didn’t want anymore confusions or secrets; i was ready to accept the fact. Earlier we talked through texts more and maybe that wifi relation created all these confusions. Or maybe because, there were no emotions in those texts, those were just words. When i started spending more time near her, all that confusions changed into a decision and at that point there was no going back. She was my best friend for god’s sake and in my life, nobody like that happened to me before that i felt this secured and loved. I was not going to hold back the biggest truth from my best friend anymore.
We were sitting on the small wall in the beach and she was still listening to the sea and the breeze was still cool and my hands were all sweating for no reason. I stared at her for a long time and then i didn’t know when and how it happened, my lips met with hers. That was a great feeling, i was not aware of what was going on, but i was sure that i wanted it to happen so much. And to my surprise, there was no sign of protesting, she kissed me back. She was so sweet and tender. I felt her getting more fragile in my arms and it was very cold, that December night cold.
I hugged her close to my body and she rested her head on my shoulders. There were no words, that kiss had said it all. And from the brightness of her face, i knew she too wanted this to happen and that she realised the fact even before i figured it all out. She knew what we had was love or something more. But girls, no matter how much they talk, keep some things to themselves. And that was good that she kept it to herself. I realised it myself and that was the best way of realising. Maybe if she did say that to me earlier, i should have freaked out and then when i would realise, it would be too late.
It took her sight for me to realise all that, i wanted that personal touch to know all that and girls are always better there, they don’t get confused more there. God did have a plan for me and her. Everything was happening according to his plan and suddenly it all felt good. He has always done the good for me. I met that girl and didn’t fell for her at the first sight but fell for my best friend. And there was so much love inside and i felt good to be with her, no matter what.
She was asleep on me while my clock showed half past eleven. It was always been wonderful to watch her sleep. There were times when i would watch her sleep and smile and she was so much into sleeping. In all literature class she would be half asleep, but still she managed to score the highest marks. When i go for some party at her home, when clock would show ten, her mom would say, ‘she already went to bed’ and on Saturdays she would sleep till noon, but on Sundays she would be up early to push me to the church. And if she was tired after a trip, she would sleep through a day. I never understand, how a person manage to sleep this much.
I read her books and spend more time with her. She was coming back, she started talking, but i missed that stupidity in her talking. And she enjoyed me reading to her. And her parents loved me being there for her. It was like all of them have known all along and i was the only dump one. I caught her mom smiling when she saw Saya lying on my chest and me reading a book for her. That would be a perfect scenario to watch for a third person. all days i left her home after her being a sleep and returned as soon as i wake up and i am not much a sleeping person. and my mom insist on having at least breakfast with her. My parents missed me around the house, but they were proud and happy for what their son was doing.
It was the New Year’s Eve and i forced her into our favourite spot, Terrace of my apartment. First she had said no and as I am that a charmer, i managed to take her at last. Usually on New Year’s Eve we would hang out with friends in parties, but this one was special, that a party of our own in our favourite place sounded the best.
We sat on the small wall which overlooked the city, people were rushing away and all of them were busily heading to parties to make their Eve wild and loud. I suddenly didn’t know what was so special in the thing we have done for the past years. This night was not about drinks or disco songs, for us, this night was leaving behind of whatever we lost that year and living on what we had for the rest of our life. That thought provided me of comfort. I have never been philosophical in life, but people change.
‘Krish’ her sweet voice called and she had my full attention
‘Do I still have dimples?’ she asked and smiled that weird smile. I saw the old Saya flashing there, this was the Saya i missed for so long, which felt like a life time to me. She appeared all funny and stupid again. Her dimples flashed and I loved to watch her smile and no doubt that her smile was stunningly beautiful and childish.
‘I bet that you are having that stupid smile on you right now’ she said again and she was right, there was no way that i was not smiling while i had everything i ever wanted for the first time of my life.
‘Who the hell said that you can’t see? And about your dimples, they are still there, ugly as always’ i teased her, it was always fun to tease her, it would feel like teasing a one year old niece, if i had any.
‘Really?’ she asked and the expression on her face couldn’t leave me without laughing and after a long time, i laughed out loud.
‘Kidding’ i said and i watched her face lit up like a small kid and i loved the whole thing about that.
I made her listen to my newly composed piece of music and she said, she would throw my guitar away, in case i am not going to stop playing that. She was back all enthusiastic and energetic as ever. And i knew she liked my music and that she was just not ready to accept my work, she always did that and that is her way of saying that she loved things. She seemed all childish and innocent again that night, for me it was like i got my whole life back. That was what exactly i wanted to see my friend come back to.
She lied on my lap like she was watching the stars, but i was sure that she was taking that entire breeze into her. And she wanted to talk non-stop, which was definitely a good sign. We kept on talking about things and she narrated her new story to me and i loved it but like always, doesn’t cared to appreciate it and she deserved that for what she did to my great work on my guitar.
‘Let us talk about our old lovers and crushes!’ she said and she seemed all dreamy.
‘I don’t think that it’s a good idea’ I made a face and was sad that she couldn’t see that.
‘Why not?’ she seemed like a complaining kid then.
‘Because I don’t want to talk about your god damn crush and I definitely don’t wanna talk about my ex’s, they suck and you know all that yaar and the possibility of you finding a reason for fighting seems obvious at this point’
‘How was your first kiss?’ she asked out of nowhere, she knew all details about it and what was the point of bringing that up again.
‘I don’t really remember anything now’ and i haven’t lied, that was the truth. That may be my first kiss, but not the real one, so there was no point in being dreamy about that for the rest of my life. But the first kiss i had shared with her was the real and best one and i would never ever forget that in my life. And if she wanted to know about that, i was available.
‘What about yours?’ I asked back, and i had no recollection of she sharing about that sort of thing with me. And i was not this kind of guy who would go behind someone and force them to share their things with me, if she wanted to say, i would listen with full heart. And she was not this kind of girl who has to be asked to share her things.
‘You know about that, i think you shared it with me’ she said and i saw no kidding on her face. She was serious. She had her first kiss with me. That was a real news to me and wow, i couldn’t believe my ears. She even dated her high school crush and this is what she got?.
If she was not lying on my lap, but was sitting next to me, i should have given her yet another kiss. I stared down at her and i was glad that she couldn’t see how pathetic i looked at that exact moment. I had no words to explain her or what she meant to me. I asked god, why it took this much time for me to realise all that. And i was angry at him for reason i didn’t knew.
Two more years passed away and she adapted to the environment easily than i thought. She started doing things on her own, she stopped sitting in her room all time and started to come out, socialise with people. She was getting around good and i was glad.
We went for many trips, beaches of Goa, mountains of North; she told me that she could see through me. You have no idea what it did to me; i had a feeling which i can’t explain. She was this kind of person who adored travelling and i was glad that she was still enjoying her trips.
She got better by each moments and i was getting back my best friend. We finished college and she did her best, she was so strong all along.
Instead of doing masters, i wanted to make a music career and my parents and friends promoted me, and it was not a big deal to go to music when living in Mumbai, the city of dreams. But Saya wanted me to do masters, and i listened to her out of everybody, not only because she was special, but she was good when it came to things about education and career. For her she wanted to stay home because she thought it would be hard for her to study. She was real crazy there, she forgot how great she did those two years at college.
She wanted to write and yeah, i said ‘of course, you should write, but I am not goanna allow you to sit in home while you want me away at college sucking my brain’. It was not just that, i had the same reason for her which she had for me while it came to education. She would have a writing career, but why ditch education and considering how great she was at studies, i simply couldn’t let her go free.
And if i ever was doing masters, it would be business of course, because i have had already enough with health science, i proved i couldn’t make a Doc or anything in that territory. I wanted to give business a hand and see how good i would do there. After all i have a choice and i chose this.
Saya wanted to do literature, but it was not fair to leave her alone, so we decided upon going to a business school in Hyderabad. I told her we would do literature, but she insisted on business, like always she considered my choice first. And i decided i would spend yet another 2 years of my educational life doing masters in literature. After all i had a small interest in literature, so did Saya had in business. And therefore our educational plans became just perfect.
The day before we went for college, i took her to the church. Earlier she used to take me and didn’t know why i grew fond of god. And i knew how perfectly happy she seemed in churches and how happy she always looked to see me at church. By then, i didn’t ask for reasons, i just did the things if it could bring a smile on her face. She was always beautiful when smiling and i wanted to see her like that forever. Her happiness, her tears and emotions mattered in my emotions then.
I watched her praying silently in the church. I honestly had nothing to ask god then, i already had everything i ever wanted in my life. While she was with me, that was all i ever could ask for myself. Her eyes were closed and she was chanting. That was something very fortunate to watch. And she always bought a smile to my face and a sweet pain to my heart.
‘Saya’ i whispered. She smiled sweetly and turned to me, she was happy like a little kid, like she had nothing to worry about.
It was time for me to make the commitment, i no longer had to think. If her single smile could make my life, what was there to think much, i just had to act swiftly, before i lose my best friend to anything. I had everything when i am with her and she seems to be my only need.
‘kya tum hamesha keliye meri saya banjayega yaar?’ i spitted it out and there was no weird feeling, it all came right and normal. I made her feel the ring in my hand and i was not on my knee as it couldn’t provide anything into that situation. And that was not my great grandmother’s ring. I bought one for her, she was special when i haven’t even met my grandmother. It was not expensive, but it had a diamond on it somewhere.
‘Krish, i can’t...i...sorry’ she stammered and i saw pain in her beautiful eyes. That was not the answer i expected and that was not the happy ending i dreamt of.
‘Saya.?’ That is only what came out of my mouth right then.
‘Krish, i cannot see anything, i cannot see you changing, i cannot see our children growing, i cannot see what you want me to see, you cannot surprise me with gifts and...’ what was wrong with her. Why was she thinking of herself as a disabled person. There were things which only she could do to me. Only she could make me talk endlessly, only she could make me laugh uncontrollably, only she could lead me in the right path, only she could make me the person i am, all because she was the best, simply the best i got in my life.
And i knew what exactly i had to do to make her think straight, after all i was her best friend and i knew all the ways to fix her, i have done it for years. I have managed to pull her up from fights and push her into parties, handling her was no big deal.
I took her hands gently and placed it on my face, i made her feel my face and i asked,
‘Can you see me?’ she closed her eyes and after a small while, a smile adored her face and she said,
‘Those beautiful eyes, funny nose and curved lips, yeah, i can see you’ i took her hand and enclosed it in mine and closed the distance between us.
. ‘This is exactly how i want you to see things for me’ i said and a tear prickled her smiling cheeks, at that point, i simply couldn’t resist, i kissed her gentle and held her close to my heart. There was no yes, but her smile was enough for me to slip the ring on to her finger. Honestly it suited her thin tall fingers.
i didn’t had to ask her, when we became friends, i didn’t wanted her permission to fall in love with her, all because i always knew what she wanted and how she wanted it and when it came to the biggest thing, marriage, i had no doubt what she wanted.
‘About what you said earlier, that children part, yes of course, but that surprise gifts, i don’t think that its goanna happen’ i teased her
‘Why?’ she asked like a little girl instead of teasing back.
‘Because i know how expensive it would be to please you’
‘Cheapo’ she said and punched my chest hard.
‘Bas mujhe surprise karthe hi rehna’ i said and hugged her again, more tightly this time, never to let her go out of my arms.
There was a time when we would high five and laugh out loud when some of our friends say, ‘we are madly in love guys’. We are not mad, definitely i am not mad. About her, i am not sure. If my dad was not a cardiologist but a physiatrist, i should have made an appointment for her with him.
She fights all the time and tells me, fight helps a relationship reach higher and make a relation more intimate. What you say guys? Is that right? I don’t agree with that because, she drives me nuts guys!
We are planning on a summer beach wedding on the beaches of Goa right after our graduation and honeymoon most probably in London where we are planning do masters in literature. I just know this now. She definitely is my ‘Saya’ and i don’t know how dark my life would have become without her in it. She was a ‘shadow’ which bought ‘light’ into my life.
Bas thu muskuraathi rehna, zindagi bar!! Agar tumare muskurahat jaado kar sakthe hein muj par, phir socthi kyoon hein, bas yoon hi karna!!