The voice, that’s all I have ever heard. But I feel like I am addicted to it. Days pass and the nights crawl on, but I couldn’t cease to think about her voice. Sometimes I wonder how luck works in intricate ways. I was made the project manager for a new project and the GNB was hired for the architecture work. And that’s when I heard her voice for the first time, its sweetness, its innocence, its chirpiness, its naivety. And soon talking to her became my habit. I just wanted to listen to her, what did she do, how was her day, everything. It’s strange we came to know each others name after a month. She had a funny name for a girl…..
So, what’s your name?
Hmmm, everyone at the office here calls me Archie, so I think you can call me that.
Hi Archie, I am Arnav, it’s nice to meet you.
Meeting on the phone, huh? she giggled
I made her laugh, it just made my day.
We have been talking for a month, it’s strange to talk to a stranger, she said.
It’s strange, hey that was alliteration, I laughed.
We continued to talk about all the useless things. The calls which were once made twice a week turned into once a day. Since I was the manager and she was the personal assistant to the person responsible at GNB, so I had all the various reasons to call. The professional talks started ending in personal matters. But I soon started to feel that this was something more. I was getting attached to her. My mind seemed to be possessed by her voice all the time. All I cared was that I talk to her.
“What are you doing man?” Ravi asked.
“Huh” I was lost in the conversation I just had.
“I said, why are wasting your time on this girl, what’s her name anyway?”
“No, it’s Archie.”
“Listen to me, don’t be so much attached to this Archie.”
“I think I like her”
“What? You are kidding!!”
“No, call it infatuation, call it love, I don’t care.”
“How could you, I mean…. You haven’t even seen her”
“So what? So what!! She might be, you know, fat or ugly. Maybe she is married and older than you.”
“I love her.” I said.
“You are insane, I don’t know what else to say” He said wryly and left.
But I knew that Ravi won’t understand, nobody will. My heart has spoken for itself that it’s not an illusion and my feelings for her are true. I thought it was time to finally meet her.
That afternoon, I called at her office again. Her “hello” was a blessing for me. I didn’t know if I loved her only for her voice. Her words though ordinary always seemed to out of this world. I wished I could listen to her forever.
Hi, sir the report is due to come, we will notify you if that is what you called for.
No, it is something else.
God, I was nervous! I was sweating, my throat was sand dry and my voice stammered. I didn’t remember a time when I was so tensed.
I was thinking, uh… we have been talking for so much time now.
Yes, that’s true.
You think we can meet sometime, u know.., for a coffee or something.
For an instant I wished the call disconnects. Sometimes in your life, a two second pause seems to stretch for so long that you start to think maybe your life has come to a halt. But all you need to regain control is a…
“Oh God, thank you” I said to myself.
Great, I will tell you the place and time, I said excitedly.
Ok, no problem.
We talked for another fifteen minutes, but I sensed, somewhere, that enthusiasm was missing in her. She replied and talked all the time normally but I was so used to her irrepressible voice, that I knew something was up. I refrained myself from asking her, thinking maybe it would become too personal.
That evening,Ravicame back to my place, to try to convince me again. But this time I already had a lead.
“You asked her to meet you?”
“And she said yes?”
“That’s fine then.” He was relieved.
“But you will promise me one thing, if she is not your type, you will forget her”
I nodded but I didn’t say yes. Maybe I could forget her, but will I ever be able to forget her voice. Its imprints would always remain on my mind. Nothing in the world mattered to me more than her voice.
I was brought back to reality by the doorbell. The postman was standing with a letter in his hand.
“I will get it”,Ravisaid, getting up.
“Hey, it’s from your neighbour, Ritika”
“Why would she send me a letter when she lives next door to me?” I asked.
“Who knows, but pretty girls have a right to do anything”Raviwinked.
Ritika was pretty. In fact she was one the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. We had known each other for two years, since she got transferred here. We were good friends but our interaction started getting limited in the last few days, because I spent my entire free time, either thinking about Archie or remembering her voice.
I opened the letter, but I had no idea what it was about.
“ Dear Arnav
I know it seems weird to send a letter to you, but I didn’t have the courage to tell you what I am going to say, face to face, or on phone. Arnav, we know each other for two years, but I do not why, every time I see you, I feel something else. At first I thought it was mere infatuation but I am still not able to convince myself, not able to believe, not able to lie to the fact that I am in love. I never thought this would dawn on me someday and I would have such feelings. I first thought that I shouldn’t take the first step, but then how could I tell you how I feel. Endless questions kept running through my mind, how will you react, do you share the same feelings for me…… but one thing was certain, I love you and only this thing gave me strength. It’s so easy to love someone but so difficult to express it and that’s why I am writing this letter…. I don’t know what to expect….
“Dude” It was Ravi whose voice brought me back from the shock.
“I… oh this is ridiculous!”
“What? Are you in your senses Arnav? This is Ritika we are talking about.”
“I know, but I don’t feel the same for her.”
“But you two are great friends.”
“I already love someone else.”
“What? Don’t say it’s Archie.” He was irked.
I kept quite but my silence answered his question.
“You are so fucked up, I don’t even know what to say” he said angrily.
“I am going to go and explain to her.”
I got up, ignoring some more piece of advice fromRavi. Ritika lived two apartments away. I knocked on her door. She came out after a minute.
“I got your letter.”
Was it an illusion or her lips just quivered?
“No, don’t say anything” I said.
“Let me explain”
“No, listen. I respect your feelings and everything. But I don’t feel the same for you, I never had, I never will. I didn’t know when you started thinking about me like this.”
“Please, can’t you give it a chance?” she was visibly crying now. One thing that made me most uncomfortable was to see a girl cry. It’s so hard to find the right words to soothe a girl. But I had to be straight, this has to end.
“Ritika, I love someone else.”
I couldn’t make out what she was saying but she was definitely crying a lot louder now.
“I will leave now, I hope you will forget this.”
I turned around to leave, I caught words like life, dedication and love, I could hear her crying on the doorway but I didn’t care to listen. I know I should have stayed, should have calmed her down, should have explained, but somewhere, I had become insensitive to everything, everything except Archie, and her voice.
I found Ravi standing on my apartment’s door. I knew I had to face his flak.
“I don’t even want to talk to you anymore.” he left.
That night, for the first time, I felt fear and insecurity. What if she doesn’t like me? What if she rejects me just like I did? What if she is committed? What if she is married? Does she feel the same about me? Will we be compatible? Why was she tensed the last time we talked? What if she stops talking to me? The last question haunted me all night. I dreaded about not hearing her voice. It was insane but I was addicted to it.
The next morning, I was cheerful on the prospect of meeting her. I had my hopes high, trying to dispel the obscure ideas of the last night. I called her office at 11 o’ clock.
“Hello” a husky male voice answered the phone.
The voice struck me as a clout. I was so used to her voice, it never occurred to me what would happen if she doesn’t answer the phone.
I gathered my strength, “Excuse me, but where is Archie, the girl who always answers this phone.”
“Sir, I am sorry but she won’t be able available anymore.”
“Why?” my inners seemed to crunch.
“Sir, she… she…uh, she passed away last night.”
I was numb. My senses seemed to avert from everything. Everything was in slow motion. My face had blanched. My ears were filled with a perpetual ringing. I must be dreaming, it’s just a nightmare, I thought. I started waiting for the dream to end. At any instant, I would wake up and everything would be normal. I would listen to her again, it would help me forget this nightmare. But why does everything seem to be so real? Is this really a dream? I wondered. I do not know for much time I sat there, waiting, waiting for the sun to rise and for the night to end so that I could call her. She had promised to meet me. I have to tell her that I love her, that I want her to be with me, forever. But why am I still dreaming? Why can’t I get up from this formidable sleep?
“What did you do?” Ravi stormed into the house.
This is all part of the dream, I thought. My own brain was trying to fool me, I chuckled.
“Ritika…” he was crying, “she committed suicide, what did you do?”
Ritika, that name is familiar….. Oh yes, I remembered, Ritika Gera, she was my neighbour.
“Are you even listening to me? She took an overdose of sleeping pills, the milkman found the door open today morning. And you are the reason she did this, why didn’t you explain to her? Everyone is here, even the police……”
Ritika was a nice girl, I thought. But it was not my fault that she loved me. I was already committed to Archie. Soon, we are going to meet and I am going to tell her how I feel about her.
“….. even the people from her office at GNB are here. What has happened to you? Why are you so still?”
Hmmm, GNB. I have heard that name. Of course, that was the place where Archie worked. Archie, her voice….
I love her voice.
Ritika was pretty.
But I know it seems weird to send a letter to you, but I didn’t have the courage to tell you what I am going to say.
I sensed, somewhere, that enthusiasm was missing in her. I knew something was up.
Do you share the same feelings for me?
Does she feel the same about me?
I love you.
Ravi, I love her.
You got transferred here, Ritika?
Yes, I got a job as a Personal assistant.
She was the personal assistant to the person responsible at GNB.
Everyone at the office here calls me Archie,
What’s her name anyway?”
Archie…. Aargee….. R.G…. Ritika Gera…..
I was wrong. The nightmare did not end, it had just started.
NEXT DAY:- And a shocking double suicide took place in the Nilgiri apartments in South Delhi. A girl, Ritika Gera committed suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills, whereas her neighbour, Arnav Mehra, took his own life by drinking pesticide. This seems to be a gruesome coincidence as their deaths doesn’t seem to be related. No suicide notes were found in either house.
Editor’s Note: Marriage or happy life is not necessarily destination in love. In fact love has no destination because love cannot be concluded. Love story never ends – there is sequel: sequel for true feeling – way beyond pain or pleasure, sequel for sacrifice, sequel for being a good human – for your love. Love is gift of God. It is the nature. True lovers never commit suicide – they live… for their love…