CHAPTER 23 – Everything Is Finally Right with The World
‘Apologize to her, man!’ Rishav talks to himself in his head. He thinks about all the statements he has prepared in his hostel yesterday but looking at her, standing just few feet away from him and looking so pretty, he forgets all that. He wants to hug her, at least touch her in any way to reassure himself that she is here, that she is waiting for him to talk and that he hasn’t lost her. But one look at her face and he knows that anything other than apology will have a bad outcome… a REALLY bad outcome.
Khanak has her arms crossed and her eyes glancing at the wall clock, in the living room, every next second, a universal gesture of waiting for the other person to stop wasting time and say something.
“I am sorry Khanak… I am so so sorry” Rishav apologizes, the truth of his statement making his voice heavy. “For how I behaved that day last year and the week before that day? I am so sorry for all that. I didn’t mean any of the things I said.” Her raised eyebrows let him know that irony of what he just said was not lost on her. Last year he tried his best to make her believe that he has meant everything he had said and today, he is ready to do anything to make her believe that he really hasn’t meant any of those hurtful things. It was his hurt talking.
Seeing that his short rambling about how apologetic he is has not made any difference, he tries again “I just… I am just very very sorry” but fails in getting out anything but how sorry he is.
Khanak sits on the sofa with an audible sigh and looks up to him “Well then I am sorry too! I am sorry but I can’t accept your sorry.” And there it is! Rishav thinks, the red face, the fury in her eyes he has expected to see the moment she saw him.
He knows he should be scare of how angry she seems but he can’t help himself. He is happy at her anger. Finally, he has managed to put a dent on the armor she wore to face him. To him it feels like his Khanak is coming back to him. Admittedly, he deserves her indifference and far worse but that doesn’t mean that admitting it makes it any easier for him.
“What should I do to make you accept my apology?” Rishav asks, desperate and sincere enough to do anything, to give her anything she wants if it would make her believe that he really is sorry. He looks in her eyes, wanting her to see that he is begging for her forgiveness… wanting her to believe that whatever she’d demand, he will give it to her in a heartbeat.
He has lived this last year without having her in his life and he doesn’t ever want to go through something like it again – be it as a friend, something more or, something less, whatever limits she decides to put on their friendship, he will accept it.
A flicker of pain passes through her eyes and for the first time he sees the consequences of his actions, the hurt his unreasonable actions and words have caused her. Before he could apologize again, she hides her hurt behind the anger. Something, it seems, she has learnt to do very well in the past one year.
Khanak turns her face away from him with a sarcastic exhale. Rishav sits on his knees in front of her. Looking at her with a little bit of hope and a lot of caution he takes both of her hands in his hands. “Anything Khanak… ask for anything” Rishav pleads. He has thought that if he touched her once he would feel better and assured, but now that she isn’t slapping his hands away, he doesn’t know what he is feeling but it isn’t relief.
He had always shared an easy relationship with Khanak. It’s true that she gets upset on small matters but she also forgives easily. Before coming here, he has assumed that it will be harder to apologize to her than previous times but he had no idea how harder it would be. And right now, he is wondering whether he is strong enough to earn her forgiveness and afraid to even think about what would happen if he will fail.
When she doesn’t answer, he squeezes her hands and calls out “Khanak…”. Just her name, with all the regret he is feeling. She looks in his eyes and for a second it seems to him that she is going to say something bur before she could, her doorbell rang.
In an instant she pulls her hands away from his and stands up from sofa, making him stand up as well, as if she was in a different world till now and the doorbell has brought her to the reality again. Rishav doesn’t want to think that he doesn’t belong in her reality anymore and he takes a step towards her to keep her close to him but she takes a step back. Respecting her space, he sits on the sofa.
“I will go and see who is on the door” Khanak announces and goes to open the door. She might not know but he is ready to bet all the pocket money he has saved till now that it’s their mutual friend – Ankan.
“Ankan!” It’s good to know that he wouldn’t have lost all his savings, Rishav thinks sarcastically. “Hi, come in!” Rishav listens to Khanak greet him excitedly, exactly opposite of how she greeted him. Rishav again calms himself with the thought that it should be enough that she, at least, greeted him but damnit, it isn’t!
Rishav doesn’t know how he should behave with Ankan. After their conversation in his hostel room that day, the both have acted as if that conversation didn’t ever happen but now that they both are with Khanak they can’t pretend anymore.
“Get changed, please. We are going somewhere” Ankan announces and comes into living room. His full attention is at Khanak, so he has yet to notice Rishav.
“Oh really?! Where are we going?” Rishav asks with a smirk, very well knowing that it wasn’t in Ankan’s plan to bring Rishav with them.
Ankan looks at Rishav and Khanak repeatedly trying to figure something out then he mutters something to himself and shakes his head as if clearing it.
“Hi Rishav, you are here as well, I see!” Ankan greets him, anger underlying his greeting.
“Hi buddy!” Rishav replies back.
“Is he coming with us?” Ankan asks Khanak.
“He is your friend, you decide. I am going to get changed” Khanak declares and goes upstairs to her room. That should have hurt but the fact she didn’t clearly say no, made him happy.
“What the ….” Ankan starts talking to him but before he could finish Khanak turns back.
“Ankan, will you make your special coffee for me, please?” Khanak requests and goes to her room without waiting for him to reply.
Ankan stomps toward kitchen and Rishav follows him. “khanak and Coffee? When did it happen? And why didn’t you tell me?” Rishav asks, so astonished by Khanak’s request that he forgot about everything else.
“This year during exams. She had to stay awake late, lot of nights, so she asked me for help and I told her the recipe of my special coffee. And as for why I didn’t tell you – I am your friend not a messenger” Ankan replies, opening the cabinets to take out the material to make his so-called special coffee.
“Obviously you are my friend and not a messenger.” Rishav replies, Ankan’s statement made him feel guilty. “You seem really familiar with her kitchen” Rishav points out.
“Why? Jealous?” Ankan asks with a smirk and Rishav shrugs. Of course, he is jealous. Jealous that he was the one she called for help, jealous that she has began to like coffee so much and he didn’t even know and really jealous that Ankan seems to know her better than he does.
“So, tell me Rishav, what should I do? Should I take you with us or should I leave you here?” Ankan asks.
After seeing the superior look on his face, for a moment Rishav thought of deciding not to go but then he remembered what Ankan has said when they were talking that day. He is going to ask her out.
Rishav looks at his friend with puppy eyes. It seems it his day to do pleading.
“You can come” Ankan assures him. “I would never want to come between her friendship with you or create a rift between our friendship but don’t for a second think that I won’t ask her out on a date just because you are there. In fact, I would prefer if you were there, then I won’t feel like I am betraying you.”
“And as I said I would respect her decision” Rishav was saying truth when he said to himself that whatever limits she put on her relationship with him, he would accept and that he would respect her decision if she says yes to Ankan but that doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t try to change her decision before she announces it out loud.
Both of them nod at each other in understanding and just then Ankan announces that the coffee is ready and calls out for Khanak. Few moments later Khanak climbs down all ready to go out, her hair is dry and free of towel now so he can see her new haircut. And it was fabulous. She looks like a modern gothic princess in her black long jacket, blue jeans and dark brown knee length boots with at-least 3 inches heel. For a moment his heart really stopped beating and then started beating at double speed than it normally does. He shakes his head to clear his thoughts and look beside him only to see other guy affected by who he considered his girl just as much and for a second, he has this urge to cover her from everyone’s eyes and keep her to himself.
Only if he could do it. Only if he would have said ‘I like you too’ when she said she liked him, instead of the nonsense he sprouted.
“Here is your coffee, mademoiselle” Ankan jokes making her chuckle. She brings the coffee mug close to her lips with both his hands and takes a sip, moaning at whatever specialty Ankan has added to that coffee.
“Thanks a lot, yaar!” Ankan just winks as a reply to her thanks and Rishav gets the urge to hide her away from their friend again.
Khanak doesn’t even ask whether Rishav is coming with them or not. Maybe because she doesn’t care or she doesn’t want to appaear as if she cares or maybe because she knows Ankan too well to not know what he would decide. But right now, Rishav doesn’t care. As Rishav sees Khanak closing the main door of her house and all of them gets in the same car to go to a same place as friends, for him, everything is finally right with the world for the very first time since that incident.