Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Misery and Love

It was but a drop of love in the ocean of misery. But a drop was enough. The misery burnt through his flesh again and again, melted the bones separate but the love fused them again. This combination of misery and love, poison and nectar, loss and hope didn’t let him die and wasn’t enough for him to thrive.

Thus, in a limbo, he kept waiting for the misery to kill him. He didn’t dare hope that he would get some more love to get out of the situation.

Not before he met her. She wasn’t a ray of sunshine but an eclipse. She was not the caregiver but the bone-breaker. She was nothing men want in a woman and everything they fear. And yet, somehow, she brought for him what he didn’t have, what he couldn’t have — love.

“Isn’t it a good thing that neither of us are looking for something serious.” She said callously. Shivani was chewing gum and spit it with aim at the dustbin. Perfect shot.

Deeptam nodded and remained silent. He had heard half of it and didn’t care about any of it. He didn’t even like Shivani much. They were less in a relationship and more two people ending up in the same place by design. Deeptam’s therapist had suggested him to go out more and her hobbies were least repulsive to him of all the people he knew. In fact, he used to go alone to most places and it was only accidentally that they had met the first time and even the second time.

Now, she would ask him to go somewhere, he would say yes as it was better than wallowing in his own sorrow and the relationship moved forward in a weird manner.

She had initiated the kiss and alcohol had more stake in their first-time sex than either of them. Shivani didn’t notice all of that. She was enjoying her life enough to not notice these frivolous things. And Deeptam was happy with that. His past relationships had suffered because of these expectations. His last relationship had ended with Neeti telling him that he should die. He had agreed with her.

“You know you are really weird. I had expected that at least your expression would change when I say that.” Shivani said and smiled.

“Sorry to disappoint you.” Deeptam said monotonously.

“Nevermind. Tell me something. My friends are planning a trip to the mountains this weekend. Are you up for it?”

“Yeah, sure.” Deeptam said.

Deeptam shivered at the idea of mountains and trembled thinking about her friends. He had met them once and had disliked all of them. They would never shut up and had something to say on everything. More than once, Deeptam wanted to scream at them — “You don’t know anything about depression so shut up.” — but he decided against it. What did he know either?

“Awesome!” She said and started typing furiously on her phone.

“It’s booked.” Shivani said.

The first time she had done this, Deeptam had almost choked on his drink. How can someone be so fast and why was she asking him at the last second. Now, he knew better. The plan truly was made at the last minute. Shivani was a straight zero or one girl. If she didn’t want to go, she would’ve just said no. She didn’t plan or strategise in life. That was boring for her.

While it didn’t surprise him now, he could still feel his heart beat increase. His mouth was drying and his hands were becoming moist and cold.

“I’ll come from the loo.” Shivani said and left the table. Deeptam took advantage of the time and popped a pill. His therapist had advised him to take one whenever he felt a panic attack coming. He still prefer to hide this from Shivani. They had been together for almost one year and he didn’t feel comfortable enough to share that part of his life with her yet. She believed she was dating a normal person and Deeptam wanted it to be that way as long as possible. Besides, he didn’t know how she’ll react knowing his tryst with panic, depression and medication.

“Hey, I’m back!” Shivani said and sat on Deeptam’t lap.

“What are you doing?” Deeptam said alarmed.

“Just shut up and let me have this.” Shivani said and put her arms around him. Then, she kissed him long and hard.

<In the washroom>

“Hello.” Shivani said.

“Hey. Where are you? Is he with you?” A gentle female voice replied.

“Yeah he is outside taking his medicine.” Shivani said on the phone.

“I can’t believe you are with him since one year. How can you handle him?”

“There’s nothing to handle Neeti.” Shivani said in a cold but gentle voice. She didn’t like Neeti but needed her.

“Are you joking? He is a corpse which can move and nothing more. Anyways, why did you call me?” Neeti asked.

“We were planning to take a trip to the mountains. We’ve never been to mountains. I am.. I am..” Shivani stuttered thinking of the right word.

“Scared that he might jump.” Neeti gave her the right words.

“Yeah.” Shivani said bitterly.

“We went to mountains once. No, he won’t jump. Honestly, I don’t think he has the courage to do even that.” Neeti said laughing. Shivani closed her eyes and controlled her temper.

“Thanks.” Shivani said.

“No problem.” Neeti said.

“Bye.” Shivani said and cut the phone.

The first time she’d met him, she knew there was something wrong with him. The second time, she knew what. However, she still met him the third time and the fourth and so on. Now, she was completely in love with him. While, she didn’t show it lest he gets scared of this, she knew that she was in this for the long haul.

This meant that she had to bring him out of his current situation. She started talking to his therapist. The therapist didn’t tell her the details of her conversations with Deeptam but advised Shivani enough to work with. When Deeptam told her that Neeti was his previous girlfriend, she reached out to Neeti to know more about Deeptam’s past.

She hated Neeti but Neeti was valuable to her. Hence, every time Shivani wanted to punch Neeti, she closed her eyes and did that in her imagination. Then, she just kissed Deeptam and melted in his arms.