It was still dawn when I stepped out of the cab and walked towards the entry gate of the Delhi airport. The early morning February air was pleasant and cold.
I was travelling to Bengaluru to attend a college friend’s wedding. It had been four years since we graduated from the same college. This wedding was also going to be a reunion of our batch mates. But what I didn’t know was that the reunion would begin much ahead of time; right in the queue in front of the airline counters.
I was almost sure it was she. Same height! Same long hair! Same complexion! Curiosity had my eyes glued to her. And then about 60 odd seconds later, when she turned, she proved me right. My ex-girl friend stood two places ahead of me in that queue. We had never met after the college farewell.
I got her contact number in my mobile. I sent a text message.
“Turn behind and see the young man raising the hand.” She checked the message and replied, “What a surprise! Raj, I am very happy to see you after a gap of four years.”
Friends out of affection call me ‘Raj’ instead of BhagyaRaj Thomas.
I again sent message, “Deepali, It is not only surprise; but a happy occasion.”
Another message came from her, “I could not believe my own eyes. We know each other as good friends. The breakup was unfortunate”
I sent another message, “Our sacred relationship is as pure as gold.”
Her reply was, “Raj, it shows our deep affection.”
After check in we boarded the Bengaluru aircraft. At the entry point, airline staff greeted the passengers. We rushed to check the seat. It was in the middle in a row of three seats. The baggages were kept above the seats. My seat was just behind Deepali. One old lady was seated besides Deepali. I requested the old lady to exchange the seat. She agreed with a smile. The crew performed safety demo. For a couple of minutes the passengers were occupied with reading safety brochure. Soon the plane took off from runway. The buzzing sound was familiar to me. The plane flew very fast rushing through the air without bump or jolt. Deepali was uneasy and in a disturbed mood. Observing her psychological state, I was thinking how to start the conversation. I could not control my anxiety and asked, “What happened to you Deepali? Why are you nervous?”
She was unable to reply as the matter was very serious.
“Deepali, you can reply whenever you wish. I know you are finding difficulty to narrate four years happenings. I hope you are also attending Akshay Rao’s wedding tomorrow.”
Her heart was beating very fast and words could not come out from her mouth. She was shivering and virtually weeping. Raj was surprised to see her vulnerable condition.
“Raj, tomorrow I am going to marry with your friend…Akaash” said with tears in her eyes
I was very much stunned and felt as if the powerful thunderbolt was falling on me. I became speechless at that moment. After a couple of minutes, I returned to the normal position.
“Deepali, please explain me the reasons for deserting me. My only fault is I have not contacted you even on single occasion and enquired about your well being. I will give you the reason for my silence during that time. I am very much eager to know your sudden change of mind.”
Akaash and Deepali were residents of Delhi. They were classmates right from first standard to degree level. I moved to Delhi from Kolkata and joined the same school, where they were studying. We became friends. I joined the same high school and college along with them at Delhi and all completed degree in Science with highest marks. I went to USA for engineering studies and completed Post Graduate study in Information Technology with distinction. Akaash went to United Kingdom to prosecute higher studies in Medicine. He stood first in Post Graduate study in Paediatrics. He was practicing there independently and became popular child health specialist. Deepali stayed in Delhi and joined college of architecture and completed post graduation in first class. She started independent practice.
I was always helping Deepali, whenever, she was in trouble. I was ready to come to her rescue at any time. But Akaash maintained distance with her from the beginning. Once, Deepali had high temperature and expecting help from friends. She called Akaash and me over phone for help. I came immediately and took her to hospital by getting ambulance. Akaash never turned up and did not show courtesy to enquire about her condition. Deepali liked me than Akaash. She extended hand of real friendship towards me and considered me as friend, philosopher and guide. We became lovers after some time.
Deepali was beautiful, serious minded, intelligent, and self disciplined woman. She became a famous architect by her hard work. Akaash was bold, powerful, independent thinking and interested in continuing advanced studies in child health. I was emotional, hospitable and sentimental. I had completed the Post Graduate course in Information technology from one of the reputed American Universities with distinction. I was handling a top managerial position in one of the reputable software companies of USA.
Deepali was trying to overcome from the depression.
“Raj, you know I lost my mother, when I was just eight year old. My father was practicing as a criminal lawyer. He was considered as an expert criminal lawyer in Delhi. He was active in the profession for 35 years and took retirement only last year. My father would have been in the profession for another five years. But God didn’t like this. He was suffering from a dreaded disease cancer. It was detected at last stage. He was counting the days for departing from this world. Before his death, he wanted to arrange my marriage with Akaash, his younger sister’s son.
When Akaash was born, she took promise from her brother to arrange marriage of Deepali with Akaash. This was kept secret and not revealed. One day my father told me about his promise given to his sister. My father was fully aware of my acquaintance and love with you. I tried to convince my father about my desire of marriage with Raj. My father took my hand and insisted oath to marry Akaash. I became brave and told I am already in love with BhagyaRaj Thomas and marry him; otherwise remain unmarried through out my life.
My father became nervous and told me that Raj belongs to Christian religion and Akaash is a Hindu. We are Hindus and never extend matrimonial relation with another religion. My conscious does not permit inter religion marriage. If you bent upon marrying Raj, after my death my soul will not rest in peace. I was shocked to hear such strong words from my father and took oath as per his wish. He passed away peacefully.”
“Deepali, you did right thing by obliging your father. I will attend your wedding ceremony and bless the couple. Please keep our friendship secret and don’t reveal it to Akaash.”
My eyes were completely wet and could not control the emotion. She was observing my pitiable condition. By the time our conversation was over, we reached Bengaluru airport at 10 a.m. I told her to go alone.
Akaash was waiting for Deepali at the airport. He was happy to see her. I delayed for sometime and relaxing in the lounge. I went to hotel by cab. I had already booked suit at Ashoka Hotel. I reached the hotel at 12 noon. The marriage was on the same day evening at 6 p.m. The marriage hall was situated on Mahatma Gandhi road. I took rest for five minutes and ready for proceeding to marriage hall. The taxi was ready. I was in the marriage hall much before the ceremony commenced. I met all my batch mates. They were happy to see me and enquired about my present status. Some of them already knew about my affair with Deepali. I requested them not to raise the issue after narrating the events happened. The guests were limited and the marriage was over in a peaceful manner. I went to the platform, where the couple was seated on a royal chair wearing a beautiful garland. Akaash was in blue suit and Deepali was in Indian costume sari. I wished the newly wedded couple. Akaash was happy to see me and thanked for attending the function. He was unaware of the friendship with Deepali. I gave a memorable gift to the couple and took permission from them. I left Bengaluru on the same midnight for California.
Akaash went to United Kingdom alone after a couple of days. He told her wife to be in Delhi for six months. Akaash wanted to buy an apartment or villa in a good locality. Deepali continued her profession moving to a specious office at Delhi. Akaash and Deepali were speaking over phone almost daily. Sometimes, their conversation used to continue in face talk or Skype by showing their new dress, books and electrical equipments. Sending long e-mails was their routine affair. Akaash informed that he had purchased a beautiful and luxurious villa located in a posh area. He showed bed rooms, hall, drawing room, dining room, kitchen, bath and specious open area with a beautiful lawn in the Skype. Deepali expressed her happiness to Akaash for the new villa. She was eager to go to United Kingdom and stay with her husband in the new villa. Akaash failed to bring his wife even after six months.
One day Deepali received shocking news that Akaash decided to file a divorce petition in the court of law through the Indian lawyer. He told her that he was heavily indebted to the bank for meeting expenditures like purchase of costly villa, luxurious car and costly furnitures. The bank has threatened to take legal action, if he fails to regularize the loan accounts. He also revealed that a rich British young lady doctor wanted to help him with a condition to marry her by divorcing the Indian wife. He agreed to all her conditions.
He requested Deepali to forget and forgive him and not to ask any questions in this respect. Deepali felled down on the ground with unbearable grief. She was in an unconscious state. Maid servant had arrived at the same time and witnessed the situation. She went to the neighbor’s house and informed the critical position of Deepali. The neighbor was none other than Deepali’s batch mate and also friend of me at the college. He came and arranged a car to admit her in the nearby hospital. While filling up the admit form, he mentioned his name as Deepali’s brother. He was aware that Deepali had lost her parents and staying alone. He also knew that I was her ex- boy friend living in United States of America. He got my contact number in Deepali’s cell phone.
He contacted me and told about the decision of Akaash to divorce Deepali and the subsequent happenings. He also requested me to visit India by next available flight. I came to India on third day and straight away rushed to the hospital. Deepali was in Intensive Care Unit and her condition was most critical. With the permission of the Director of the hospital, I went to see her. As soon as I stepped in the ICU, she was unable to recognize me. I was shocked and collapsed on the ground. The nurse on duty called the doctor to examine my condition. By the time doctor came, I was serious. My college mate was present till I was recovered. I enquired the condition of Deepali. It was reported that Deepali may take another one month to come to normal. I was with her as an attendant for one month. After one month she was discharged from the hospital. I told Deepali everything right from her coma to recovery.
Deepali holding my hand told, “You are my best boy friend and I will spend my rest of life with you as a life partner.”
“Yes! My life is incomplete without you. Deepali, you are my best soul mate.”
Both of us took an oath in the name of God that we lead an honest and peaceful life.