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“No. Please don’t make me the villain here,” she said. “I know you both are not involved sexually. But you two have no boundaries.”
The Muse of the Month is a monthly writing contest organised by Women’s Web, bringing you original fiction inspired by women.
Pratyusha is one of the winners for the April 2021 Muse of the Month, and wins a Rs 750 Amazon voucher from Women’s Web.
It was 7 a.m. The alarm was beeping. Naina grabbed her phone and shut her alarm. With half closed eyes, she checked if there were any messages from Karan. Disappointed on seeing no message from him, she casually checked for chats in her other groups. Friends had posted lots of photos of the party last night. Naina felt a little uneasy looking at those pics. She had to talk to Karan, she decided.
Naina and Karan had met at a restaurant three months ago in a typical arranged marriage set up. She was instantly attracted to his charming looks and his demeanour. They met a couple of times later and decided that they could spend the rest of their lives together. After all, both had similar interests be it their love for Economics or Labradors. But their lifestyles were poles apart.
Naina was a quiet person who loved to spend her spare time alone or reading or watching some romcoms whereas Karan had a huge circle of friends and would always party at someone’s place or go on long bike rides.
She had witnessed this difference a month later at their roka ceremony. She wanted it to be a simple family affair but he wanted to invite a lot of his friends and relatives. So, in the roka ceremony which turned out to be a mini wedding affair, Naina got to meet most of his friends and cousins.
One particular friend that she took note of was Mahi. She noticed that Mahi was standing beside him throughout the ceremony, playing with his hair or massaging his back or continuously whispering something into his ear. Naina wondered why would she not give the new couple some space on their special day but dismissed her thoughts immediately trying to focus on the event.
While slipping an incredibly large diamond ring on Naina’s finger, Karan asked, “Do you like the ring?”
Naina said, “Yes, it is beautiful and grand enough to show off,” and winked. “A simple band would also do” she added softly.
“Ohh, I am glad you liked it. It was Mahi’s selection. She told me you would love it!” said Karan with a broad smile and gave a thumbs up to Mahi. Naina pressed her lips tight and avoided looking at them.
Karan’s parents and Mahi’s parents have been friends and business partners too. Karan and Mahi have been friends since childhood. Their families would go on holidays together, celebrate festivals and important occasions together. In short, they were like an extended family to each other. Naina felt it was all going a little overboard when Mahi had a say in the choice of their wedding invites or Karan’s sherwani. How could she point it out without hurting anyone’s feelings, wondered Naina.
Still no message from Karan, Naina decided to go and meet him right away.
On the way, she kept thinking about the conversation that happened last night at the New Year’s party hosted by Karan’s friend.
Naina and Karan had walked into the party and as expected Mahi who was already there dancing ran to him, grabbed him and dragged him to the dance floor leaving Naina all alone. After a while, they both came and sat next to her and suddenly started the discussion of Naina’s brother and his separation from his wife.
She was shocked. Naina’s brother had been going through a difficult phase right now, and she had confided about this with Karan. But he went on and gabbed about such a sensitive matter with this loudmouth. She felt betrayed and hurt. She wanted to talk to Karan about it but Mahi was already on her 8th shot of vodka and completely drunk, and was rambling about how these two have always been together and people jokingly called them the Siamese twins. Karan had to drop Mahi home. He offered to drop Naina too, but she faked a headache and left.
Naina parked her car in front of Mahi’s house and rang the bell. She had rehearsed what she wanted to talk about. As soon as Mahi opened the door, Naina asked, “Is Karan sleeping still? I had to talk to him.”
Mahi, a little surprised and a little hungover from last night, “Yes. He must be in the shower. Come on in. How did you know he was here?” She paused and when Naina didn’t speak a word, she continued “Actually after dropping me home, we got talking about your honeymoon destinations. I told him I’ll select a nice romantic venue for your stay.”
Naina could not control herself or pretend to be calm anymore. Karan was discussing his honeymoon ideas with his friend and not his fiancé. She walked towards Mahi and said, “Oh yes, I knew, I always know when he’s here, and what-all you’re up to, but you must understand that you’re older now. Just like childhood ended, and school ended, and college ended, your childish ‘best-friendship’ with that boy also has to come to an end. That boy is an adult now. And he is about to get married. You will have to let him experience this new phase without constantly clinging to him or interfering in his life.” Naina was so angry that she didn’t realise that she was actually yelling.
Karan who had walked into the room stood there trying to comprehend what was happening. “What is the matter? Why are you being so rude to Mahi?” he asked stunned.
“I am not being rude for no reason Karan. I am just tired. Tired of having to compete for your attention, trying to be your confidante, forcing to create a bond. I can’t take this anymore,” she paused, choking with her anger.
Mahi still reeling from the shock of this terrible conversation asked angrily,
“What do you mean by friendship needs to end and you know what all we are upto? We have a platonic relationship. I can’t believe you are jealous of our friendship.”
Naina closed her eyes and shook her head. “No. Please don’t make me the villain here,” she said. “I know you both are not involved sexually. But you two have no boundaries. Karan, you must understand that as a couple we need to give priority to each other. We can’t have our parents, siblings or friends come in the middle of our relationship. Anyways, as I said I am done competing. Here is your engagement ring. This is over.” She pulled out her ring and placed it on the table.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” asked Karan. His face had turned red.
“I am damn sure I want to do this, Karan. I am never going to be in a relationship where I am going to feel like a third wheel.” She said and walked out of the door, her mind relieved and free.
Editor’s note: This month’s cue has been selected by Anuja Chauhan, who has worked in advertising for over seventeen years and is credited with many popular campaigns. She is the author of five bestselling novels (The Zoya Factor, Battle for Bittora, Those Pricey Thakur Girls, The House that BJ Built and Baaz) all of which have been acquired by major Bombay studios.
The cue is from her latest book Club You to Death.
“And she said, oh yes, I knew, I always know when he’s here, and what-all you’re up to, but you must understand that you’re older now. Just like childhood ended, and school ended, and college ended, your childish ‘best-friendship’ with that boy also has to come to an end.”
Image source: a still from the film Luck By Chance
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Pratyusha Pinnali. An amateur writer. Mother. Worked for an NGO dealing with senior citizens.
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