1. Make a Wish
"Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you. Happy Birthday dear Nonu...happy birthday to you."
The gentle singing made him smile before he opened his eyes. Cracking open one eye, he saw his best friend smiling at him, holding a cake in her hands and looking at him intently. He glanced at the clock hanging above the door.
A few seconds past midnight.
"Tu kab ayi?" He rubbed his eyes to push away the last traces of sleep and shifted to make room for her besides him. While he pushed himself to a more comfortable sitting position, she took her place beside him and put the cake in his lap.
"Pehle cake kaato!" She ordered him and handed him the knife and quickly lighted the one candle she had set in the middle of the cake. He rolled his eyes pointedly at her and blew the candle as she broke into an applause. And as he cut the cake, she broke into a louder version of the birthday wish she had been singing to him a few seconds before.
He cut a small piece of the cake and fed it to her and she did the same to him. She smiled and pecked him gently on his cheek.
"Happy 18th, Nonu."
He smiled at her and looked sideways at the large picture of his parents which graced a full wall of his room. Sadness engulfed his eyes as he remembered his birthday from 11 years ago. The one with the car wreck and death and loss. The one where this big house started to mourn and never actually stopped.
She sensed what he was thinking and took his hand in hers. He blinked away the tears and looked at her, not bothering to even attempt a smile. Because he knew he couldn't come up with it even if he tried and because she understood.
"Hey, abhi mujhe jaana. Kafi late hogaya hai." She said after a few minutes of silence and shifted a bit to get up. But he gripped her hand which was holding his and pushed it a little. She looked at him and waited for him to say something. He opened his mouth and only said three words.
"Stay the night."
"Arey! You didn't make a wish!"
She suddenly exclaimed and he blinked at her. They had been sitting on the porch stairs, not saying much. The bowls of ice cream and chocolate wrappers indicated just what they had been up to in the hot summer night at 2 am.
"Kya yaar Moti! Main koi bacha thodi hun." Annoyed, he rolled his eyes at her and she turned to him with a disbelieving look on her face.
"Ye kaisa logic hai? It's your birthday! Tum apni life ka ek naya saal start kar rahe ho. You have to make a wish for this year!" She said it firmly as if the world would collapse if someone didn't make wishes on their birthday. For someone so smart and mature, there was still some childishness in her. One that not everyone would notice in her. But since he wasn't just anyone in her life, he knew exactly the extent of her stubbornness when it came to such trivial things.
"Acha, kya wish karoon?" He turned the question to her and she blinked at him.
"Tumhari life hai, tumhari wish." She shrugged and looked away.
"Okay. My wish is ke main yahan se hamesha ke liye kahin durr chala jaoun." He mimicked her shrugging and looked away as well.
"Oi!" She hit him on the shoulder and he grimaced as he rubbed the spot she hit. Honestly speaking, her slaps and punches never actually did hurt him. He had just always played along with her. It was somewhat of a tradition one can say. She would hit him and he will pretend to be in pain and she would be satisfied with her success and he'd be content at it all.
"Be serious Nonu! Ab tou hamara college bhi start hone ko hai. Don't you have a wish?" She said seriously and he started to think about it. Their college life was starting in two weeks. Strangely, he hadn't given it much thought except that he had to be on top of everything. Academics, sports, activities; anything and everything. Ranveer Shergill had to top it all. So that no one, no one, would ever take him for granted again.
He saw the flashes of his life from before the summer break. What he used to be, what he turned himself to be and what he ultimately became. Every single moment that had led him to be here flashed across his mind.
"Tumhari inhi harkaton ki wajah se sab tumein chod ke chale jaate hain! Tum akele the aur hamesha akele raho ge!"
Anger started to overtake him again. But he had started to learn the craft of not letting his anger show to others. Anger was vulnerability. And he never wanted to be vulnerable again.
"I wish ke main apni purani galtiyan kabhi na repeat karun." He said after a long stretch of silence.
"Hum ne apni life mein bohat galtiyan ki hain, kya kya repeat nahin kar paoge?"
He looked at her but she was staring at a distant point in the sky. He didn't say anything and followed her gaze and searched for the point so he could share this gaze with her, like they had shared so much of everything before.
He couldn't find it.
Edited by spicySugar.. - 29 March 2014 at 12:29am