“WATCHOUT…” And the scream trailed off…
Rishab stopped and turned back. A Honda City was hit by a truck and the car had turned over and landed on the footpath barely a foot away from him. The glasses were shattered and splattered with blood. He could sense that someone might be dying inside. He could see people shouting for help and running towards the battered car. Everything seemed in slow motion to him.
His mind could not process anything. It did not even occur to him that fate had spared him a certain casualty. He just turned and walked away. He could not sense that he might be of some help and that he should rescue those trapped in the ill fated car. Nothing… absolute blankness was all he could feel. Once he walked away, he did not even turn back to see what had happened of those inside.
Back home, he put his bag down and lied on the couch. No matter how hard he tried he could not figure out what had just happened. How had he escaped? Most importantly why had he been spared by destiny? One thing that kept bothering him was “Why did he not feel anything? How could he just walk away as if nothing had happened? He was not insensitive last time he had checked. What had been going on in his life?”
Try as he may, he could not find any answers to these questions. Numbness was all he could feel. Almost serene. The look on his face suggested that he might be sedated. He kept fiddling with his phone trying to put his mind away from what had just happened. All of a sudden he could hear soft Hellos. He looked at the screen and to his amaze he had unknowingly called up Di. He had to talk.
“Hello Di… How are you?”
“Hey Rishab. Kaisa hai tu? I am good.”
“Oh, I am great.”
His voice suggesting otherwise.
“What happened Bhai? You seem really disturbed… Kuch gadbad hai kya?”
“Oh nothing Di. Just a little tired. Just back from college. Lying down actually. Aap batao… How are things going on your side??”
“I am doing great. The new job is almost perfect. Just the job I had always wanted. Amit says we should get married though I am in no hurry. Waise, tu topic mat badal. You are sounding disturbed. Jaldi bata what happened? Spent all your money? Studies mein problem hai? Ya tera purana Girl problem?”
“What Di. Aap bhi naa. There are no girls in my life. And as far as I know, I don’t want one. ”
“Haha… okay okay. Don’t worry Bhai, we will find you a cute girl. I am there, naa...”
His voice almost trailed off.
“Di, I saw a car crash just in front of me. I was barely a foot away.”
“Oh my God! Rishab, beta, tu theek to hai naa… Did anything happen to you? ”
“Naa.. I am fine. Not even a scratch.”
He could hear Di’s breath cooling off, in huge relief.
“Rishab, was anyone hurt?”
“I don’t know Di.”
“What? You were a foot away and you don’t know. Didn’t you call the ambulance or the police?”
“I don’t know what had happened then. I just turned and left. Could not even turn and look back. Not that I was scared. I don’t know what happened then. I just left. Could not hear any voices, could not interpret anything. Kuch samajh hi nahi aaya… Abhi bhi nahi aa raha hai… I don’t know what’s happening to me. I didn’t even call you. I heard your voice on the phone to realize I had called you up. ”
“Mom would have thought you are doing drugs. I know that you aren’t, Rishab. Waise, are you? Okay, okay, tell me how are you feeling right now?”
“What Di? Mom dad to yeh sab bolte hi hain. Ab aap bhi…”
“Naa bhai, I know you don’t. I was joking just to cheer you up…”
“Di… Main aisa nahi tha… You know I haven’t even felt that I was lucky to escape unhurt. I could have very well just died on the spot. Yet I feel no sense of gratitude. Di, I really cared for people. I wasn’t insensitive, I never was. I could not see even a drop of blood and today I saw blood splashed all around. Didn’t even flinch. Didn’t shiver. Just walked away. What has gotten into me? What has happened to me? I just can’t understand…”
“Nothing’s happened to you Bhai. Come on. I knew you as this super cool guy. You are just a little disturbed. Tell me what all has been going on in your life.”
“Just the regular. And yeah I am still cool…”
His voice clearly suggested disquiet though he tried hard to conceal it with a pretentious tranquility. He knew Di had understood. He just wished she would not push him to say any more. He wanted to talk and share but he just didn’t know what to say. He himself could not understand what was going on.
“Rishab, you look disturbed. I am not feeling good about this. Listen, go take a shower. It will help you cool off and put you at ease. And for God’s sake don’t try gulping down Dad’s scotch. Go, go, I will call you up in exactly fifteen minutes. ”
Rishab was too preoccupied to resist.
“Theek hai. Call me up…””
He knew he needed her. He knew he needed a shower. He just stood in there and hoped the flowing water could carry off his worries. It did not…
“Did you take the shower? Feeling Better?”
“Good… Chal bata, what all has been going on in your mind off late…”
“I don’t know. Nothing in particular.”
“Di… sometimes I feel I could have been so much different. Life could have been so much better…”
“Why what has gone wrong?”
“Nothing. Just that nothing has gone as I had wished. And now I don’t even know what I had wished for…”
“College is almost over. And I have no idea what I want out of life. You always were so sure about what you wanted in life. Me, I wanted to explore everything, hoping to find what my true passion was. Something that could inspire me. Something which would make me feel restless. Something which would light a fire inside and make me feel alive… Something which I could call my ‘life’s calling’. Haven’t found anything like that. I have landed a stupid job, which I don’t know if I will enjoy. Years have passed by and I still don’t have a single answer to any of the questions I had set out to decipher. Tum hi batao main kya karoon…”
“Hmmm… is there anything else?”
“You know, whenever I think about all this, which is almost always, I feel that I am worthless. I have achieved nothing in my life. Sometimes I feel that I have been drifting along with time. That I have just existed. I don’t know what have I existed for. What am I? What is my purpose on earth? What should I live my life for? Whom should I live my life for? I have absolutely no idea and more I think, more lost I get in my own agony.”
“Kitna soochta hai tu. Itna bhi koi pareshan hua hai bhala… Relax. Go out for the evening. Go get yourself a good book and a nice CD. Right now put your mind off all this. Your life is just fine dear. And you will do great in whatever you decide to do.”
“Bhai, you are just lonely. Get in touch with your old friends… Call up Anjali. You might just be missing her. Or why don’t you take a weekend off and come here. We will catch up and a new city will do you a world of good. There are quite a few cute girls here. ”
“Mujhe pata tha tum nahi samjhoge… Rehne do. I will be fine… and don’t bring up Anjali ever again. It’s over and I don’t want that ever brought up again. Galti ki maine tumhe kuch bhi bata ke.”
“Don’t get angry, Rishab. I was only trying to help. And what makes you think I don’t understand, dear. It’s just that the state that you are in right now, nothing I say would appeal to you. You DO need to get your mind off all this before you will be able to accept anything new. There is no point in living in your agony.”
“Yeah, fine. I’ll go get some music. And I can’t afford the tickets. You know I can’t save money. Never have, maybe never will… ”
“Uff… there is just too much negativity in you right now. There is no way this will help you.”
“Yeah, fine. I’ll call you some time later.”
Silence before the good-byes were uttered.
“Okay… Do what you want but don’t get disturbed.”
“Hmm… Bye Di… Miss you at times, you know.”
“Rishab… You know I love you… ”
“Ahh… you were the one I was closest to. Why did you have to move to Delhi? You know, whenever I feel lonely, I miss you. Just you… ”
“Arre to call kar liya kar naa… Ab work takes you different places. Koi baat nahi bhai, I’ll plan a trip soon. Can you manage a short holiday? I’ll send over the tickets… ”
“It’s okay Di. I will be fine…”
“Yes, you will be. Arre, what fine… my little bro has to be great.”
“Haha… yes, yes… I will be great. Sometimes it feels so nice just talking to you…”
“Life is big, Rishab. You need to know that you are just beginning your life. Abhi kitni zindagi dekhi hi hai tune, yaar…”
“Oh stop treating me like a kid…”
“Haha… Always have. Always will…”
“Anyways… you have just begun a beautiful journey. And most importantly you need to know that you have to enjoy this journey. Unless you remain happy you won’t be able to live life to the fullest… Isn’t that what you have always wanted to do? Live life to the fullest? Extract the most out of every moment here? ”
“You want answers to life, your motive, your passion. You need to know that most people don’t even bother to look for any answers. They just drift along with life where ever it takes them. When you are looking for the answer to the Meaning of Life, you need to keep your faith. You need to believe that someday you will find them. If you lose hope, you will become sad. Aur sad hoke kuch bhi nahi milta budhdhu… And don’t you know girls drool over your smile…”
“Stop teasing me…”
“Okay, okay.Rishab, you have miles to go. There lies a beautiful, extra-ordinary life ahead of you. You are sad only because certain things might have gone against your wishes. Happens in life. You are strong. You will take them in your stride and keep moving… And keep smiling, bhai…”
“And about looking for answers, most of the questions are related to just the path that you have to take in life. So find out the ones that you can take right now, but keep looking. Keep your faith… And what looking, go ahead and create your own path. You know you can do it. And I am sure you will do it.”
“Thanks Di… I am so lucky to have you…”
“Am feeling so much better now… Thanks for listening me out… ”
“Oh my God! In all my stupidities I totally forgot about the accident. I will go and find out what happened of those inside the car. I just hope that they are fine.”
“Yes, I hope they are fine. Go find them out and help them as much as you can. And don’t feel guilty about it. You just were disturbed.”
“Yup, yup, yup… Miss you Di…”
“Chal, will call you at night. And hey, I love you…”