The price of greatness is responsibility.
- Winston Churchill
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As soon as my lecture concluded when the clock said ten minutes to five at Khalsa College Delhi University, I began to uncouple the long chains of students rushing towards the main door. I had no time for public transport so I preferred a cab. “Hurry up bhaiya, I need to reach my home as soon as possible”. Traffic seemed to be never ending, each second passed like an hour and finally I was there. B-302 Nangram Ghaziabad, place where I and my wife lived for last seven years. She opened the door then hugged me.
‘Hullo, darling,’ she said, ‘Hullo,’ I answered.
She took my coat and hung it in the closet. Then she walked over and made the coffee, a strongish one for me, a weak one for herself; and she was in her chair, and I in the other, opposite, holding the cup with both my hands.
‘Tired, darling?’. ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I’m tired.’
‘Would you like me to get the supper?’ she said. ‘It’s Rajma, your favorite.’
‘No,’ I said.
‘But, you must eat! Wait, I’ll get some.’ She stood up and walked towards the kitchen.
‘Sit down, Just for a minute, sit down,’ I said. ‘Listen, I’ve got something to ask you.’ ‘What is it? What’s the matter?’
‘Are you real?’ I asked, ‘I mean, Do you really exist?’
‘What rubbish you are speaking?’ She said. ‘Let me get the supper’.
‘Hey! Shreya, I’m serious’.
‘Are you ok?’
‘No,’ I said. I’ve spend some years of my life with some unreal people who never existed’.
‘What happened Karan?’
“”It was some thirty minutes past six on early March evening. I exactly remember the year, it was 2003. I had mechanics exam on the next day. I waited in long queue for my turn to get the notes photocopied. I was with Anand, who studied in KMC. Our interest in astrophysics and literature was the reason behind our friendship despite the fact that I studied in another college. We waited for a long for our turn but couldn’t get the notes as the machine had some problem. I was worried if I won’t get the notes then it would be a trouble for me the next day. I went to the one who got the notes at the last. Her dark brown hairs were bringing out the color of his dress. She had the dark shiny eyes and flawless bright pink lips.
She was the prettiest girl I had ever seen.
‘Hullo, Miss…‘ I said.
‘Shreya, I’m Shreya Jain’ she replied.
‘Can I get the notes please?’ I said, ‘I’ll be returning you the notes tomorrow’.
‘But I don’t know who you are?’
‘I’ll get it for you Karan’ Anand interrupted, ‘Shreya is my classmate, Hullo Shreya, this is Karan, my friend from….44’.
This is how I met Shreya.
Along with time, bonds between me and Shreya grew stronger and stronger. We became good friends, better to call best friend. She used to invite me to her college; we used to sit in canteen, library, park and all the possible places where we could spend hours and hours with each other. We seemed to be perfect with each other but I wasn’t aware about the relation growing between us.
I was good in mechanics. Teachers of KMC were impressed with my knowledge, curiosity and my skills. This was one of the reason people started noticing me in the class. I remember, once Shreya took my mechanics notes and promised me to return it on the very next day. I was waiting for her in the KMC’s corridor but she was there without my notes and that was first time when I scolded her. I was shouting and was asking for my notes like kids.
‘How can you do this?’ you forgot my notes, you are too irresponsible’.
‘I’m sorry’ she said, ‘I’ll bring it tomorrow’.
‘I don’t want your sorry; I want my notes right now’.
I was so lost in the sorrow of my notes that I didn’t even notice that people in the corridor were staring at me. A short beautiful brown girl in the crowd started laughing at me. I felt little embarrassing so I went to the classroom along with Shreya. I was attending classes in two colleges, this is what I liked about DU, and we can anywhere to study whatever we want. This was something which made me to spend most of my time with Shreya.
One day, I was sitting with Anand on the first bench and Shreya was behind me with her friend. As the lecture occluded, the same girl who was laughing at me in the corridor came to me.
‘Hey! Karan, you were the one who was fighting with shreya on that day’ she said, ‘you are too childish’.
‘What’s your name?’ I asked.
‘Ananya’ she said.
She was 2nd girl in my life.
That day was special. That was first time when I came to know what friends mean, what group means, what sharing is and what life mean. I had friends, best friends. That was the day when I to know about a new feeling called love, I realized that I was in love, in love with Shreya.
Till then I was alone, all alone. I left home in 12th standard due to family troubles. I faced financial problems, took admission to DU on my own, I earned for myself, I was so busy with my life that I forgot to smile. These were the people who made me smile, who taught me to live life to the fullest. Those were the days when most of the important changes took place in my life. Not just for me, it was an important year for all of us. The changes in study pattern took place, changes in technology took place, we came to know about the most amazing communicating device called cell phone.
When I came to know that I’m with Shreya , I finally decided to propose her and went to her hostel. Her friend informed me that she has not been there since last night. This was little shocking for mr as she went without informing me. I waited for her the door and there she was after 4 hours.
‘Where were you?’ I asked, I’ve been searching you since morning’.
‘I was with my boyfriend’.
‘You never told that you have a boyfriend’.
‘What’s there to tell in it?’
‘You should have told me’.
‘Ok! I’m telling you now. I’ve a boyfriend’.
Her words completely broke me that day but I was still lucky to have her as my friend.
Now when I knew that she had a boyfriend, I decided to concentrate on my studies as half yearly exams were approaching. I was strong in mechanics and equally opposite Ananya was weak in mechanics. She approached me for help and asked me to teach her mechanics.
I agreed to teach her and we planned to study together every evening in the park. As we started spending time with each other, I got habitual to talk to her, to spend time with her. She started cooking and bringing lunch for me. I never told her that she was the worst cook of the world until one of her friend said one day.
‘Hey! Karan, how can you eat this, this is too salty to eat and Ananya, you should taste the food cooked by you before serving’.
Before I could have said something Ananya started crying. I was unable to see her crying, not just only me; no one could see her crying as she was the prettiest girl on earth. I took my hanky and washed her tears.
We both got our new cell phones and this device played a great role in strengthening bond between us. I worked as a timer for her. I used to call and wake her up, used to tell when to sleep, when to study, when to eat and almost everything. The day when I used to forget to call her, she used to scold me like my mom.
On one side our friendship grew stronger and on the other side I wished I could spend time with Shreya.
One fine morning of 10th of February, 2004, I finally proposed Shreya knowing the fact that she had a boyfriend. She kept my proposal in waiting. Days passed as usual. One day while studying in the park Ananya asked me, ‘What kind of girlfriend would you like to have?’
‘I want a completely vegetarian and a Satwik girl’.
Anaya was non-vegeterian but very little did I know that she would never eat non-veg after hearing those words.
One evening when I went to the park to teach Ananya, I saw her crying. She stood beside a tree. She was to hide her pain but her tears went against her.
‘Hey, dear, what happened? Are you ok?’ I asked.
‘Nothing I’m fine’, she replied.
‘Will you not tell me?’
‘NO’, she said.
‘Ok, I will find it by myself’ I said, ‘I can read minds, I have super natural power’.
‘Ok then find it’, she said, ‘If you can really do so’.
I went to each and every friend of her but no one knew about her problem then finally I guessed it and went to her. It was late night. I called her to the canteen on the opposite side of the hostel. She came holding two cups of coffee. We sat on the bench and I told her all what I guessed. And guess what?
I guessed it right. She thought I really have some super powers. I was able to guess it right because I had the same problem. She was all alone in her life until I met her. She too had some family troubles. What didn’t match between us was that I had some financial problems whereas she was a daughter of a millionaire. I never knew that this habit of talking to each other, spending time each other would make Ananya to fall in love with me. Ananya had same feelings for me which I had for Shreya. I didn’t know whether Shreya loves me or not, fom somewhere I got to know that she broke up with her boyfriend. I wanted to spend time with Shreya but was doing it with Ananya. I wanted to study with Shreya but was going it with Ananya. I wanted to Shreya but loved Ananya. No, how can I love her, I loved Shreya. Yeah! I loved Shreya.
Till then everything went fine in life but very little did I know that it is soon going to be turned into a nightmare.
One evening, I was too confused between Ananya and Shreya. One of my friends gave me a drink and I had it unaware of that he had dissolved a kind of drug into it. I don’t know after happened that. The last thing I remembered is that I called Ananya and said something. Next morning, one of her friend called me and said that Ananya had been crying whole night thinking about all what I spoke to her on phone last night. I called to her asked her to visit me so that I could apologize for my mistake. I don’t know who was the villain in the story who put the same drug in my glass of water when she visited me. I repeated the same mistake and misbehaved when she came to my room. I remember she went crying to her hostel. I followed her but she ignored me. I went back to my room thinking that I would ask her sorry on the very next day but that was the last time I saw her. Next morning I got a phone call and someone informed me that Ananya is no more. She hanged herself last night.
The incident completely broke me, I had no feelings, I had no tears in my eyes, no sorrow in my heart, I became completely emotionless. I stopped interacting with people, meeting people, stopped attending classes, my head was completely blank. I went home thinking that it will work out but nothing changed. I became a like a living dead-body. One day Shreya came to meet me.
‘Hey, Karan, It had been more than six months, you haven’t met anyone. You have not attended the classes, you failed the last examinations, and you didn’t talk to anyone. Listen, this is not going to work out. You are coming to college tomorrow, I’ll be waiting, and will you not speak anything?’
‘You have to move on Karan, life doesn’t stops,’ she continued, ‘you ok’.
I took a diary and gave it to her. That was I wrote for Ananya asking sorry for my mistake, I knew my words killed her. I wrote that diary during those six months when I hadn’t uttered even a single word from my mouth.
Taking the diary, Shreya hugged me tightly and that was first time in my life when I cried so badly. I remember, I cried for three days. Shreya came to my room daily. She used to take me to the college, she brought lunch for me, she started taking care of me and slowly everything came to normal and distances between us started dissolving and we came closer.
Finally on 10th of February Shreya accepted my proposal and we decide to marry each other after completing our graduation.
Time went on, we completed our graduation. I started a small coaching center at my home to earn for me and for my future family. I started making plans for my marriage. I was completely normal then. I was happy I think but almighty wanted something else. One fine morning when I was teaching gravitation to students, I got a phone call from AIIMS, Delhi. I got the news that Shreya is not ok and she is admitted to the hospital. I rushed to the hospital to see her.
She was dying of cancer, she had pancreas cancer, and she had only few months to live. I spend whole of my time with her. When she was on the death bed, she was not worried for herself, instead she was worried who would look after me after her.
She took some promises from me when took her last breathes.
1.) I’ll go back to my home and will live happily with my parents.
2.) I’ll marry.
3.) I’ll set up a research institute where all are free to study and to do research.
I promised her that I’ll keep my promises. She went in the arms of God leaving behind great memories.
I completed my post-graduation in 2008 and decided to go for PhD and there I met you, another Shreya in my life, my present wife. You fall in love with me and I married you as I promised someone. Sorry I never discussed about it before our marriage’, I completed my story.
‘I don’t have any problem with your past, I still love you,’ she said, ‘I still didn’t get why you said this “Are you real?”’
‘Actually, I saw Anand’s photo on one of my friend’s Facebook profile few days ago’, I continued, ‘But his name was Sunil, not Anand. I thought he had changed his name but when I contacted him, I came to know that he was someone else.’
‘Then what happened next?’ my wife asked curiously.
‘I don’t know who he was but he made me to memorize all the incidents happened in my past, so I decided to meet my friends. I searched for them but I was failed in the task. I went to the college for record. I gave some money to the guard and asked for the record. And I was shocked hearing his words’.
‘What did he say?’ she asked.
‘He said that no such people in that batch existed. I talked to all my other batch mates, they repeated the same words. “NO SUCH PEOPLE EXISTED”, I went to the KMC’s girls’ hostel. They too said the same thing “There was no girl named Ananya or Shreya during those years. Even Anand never existed. To confirm it again, I went to AIIMS, where Shreya died. They too had no such name in their record. This all mean that I had lived my life in an unreal world. This was all just a result of my imagination.’
‘I don’t have that diary which I wrote for Ananya, Anand, Shreya and Ananya, no one met to any of my friend or my family member. Nothing related to them exist. ‘ I continued ‘this is why I am asking you “Are you real?”
‘Yes, I’m’ she continued, ‘I have met your family, you have met my family, we have lots of photos together, we married in front of hundreds of people and I love you, I think I should get the dinner for you’.
She went towards the kitchen saying this ‘I love you Karan and don’t worry, your Shreya exists’.