The Balls to Live

Rishaan stared at the body. All that cheeriness, all that excitement, all the life. . .The whole complex being she had been had simply ceased to exist. All those dreams and fears and everything she had ever been had simply stopped being.


In the middle of the flight, Kiara woke up to go to the washroom. When she returned, she was too lazy to push her way into the middle seat. And with Rishaan readily offering to shift seats, the seating arrangement changed. With 20 minutes still remaining for the flight to land, a sleep starved Kiara took another power nap, this time holding Rishaan’s right hand more firmly. Rishaan’s other hand, though, nervously moved to touch Diya’s.

Her heart skipped a beat. Diya pulled her hand away. But a defiant Rishaan held her wrist again, this time firmly and more reassuringly. The changing behavioral dynamics between the three perhaps gave out a foreboding of what was to come in Goa.

When the flight landed at the Dabolim Airport, Rishaan felt uncanny…his excitement seemed replaced by an unknown fear that he found very difficult to decipher.

He turned off flight mode on his phone once he could, and the calls and messages were notified one by one.

Checking his Facebook Notifications, he found Diya had been pretty active before boarding the flight. Active from two of her accounts, that catfish.

He remembered how he had hated Diya a few years back. She had never seemed trustworthy, and her having multiple accounts had only strengthened his views. The only reason he had been nice to her was that she had been Kiara’s best friend.

But that was then.

He looked at her. She was pretty.

“What?” Diya’s eyes narrowed.

“Nothing.”

Occasional greenery rushed through the windows of the taxi they were moving in. They knew of the exorbitant pricing of Goan taxis, but this was a prepaid one from the Airport, so it wasn’t that bad.

“Okay,” Diya clapped. “Who’s excited?!”

“Me!” Kiara raised her hand. She looked at Rishaan and hit him with her elbow.

“Ow! I guess I’m not allowed to be not excited.” Kiara glared at him. “But how can I not be?! We’re in Goa, just the three of us!

“Yay!” Diya shouted. Kiara furiously messed Rishaan’s hair, who closed his eyes and did a little jig.

 

Rishaan waited for the sun to set against the famed horizon of Vagator, sitting patiently atop the beautiful rocks there. They had done Calangute and Baga beaches in the morning after checking in at their hotel, and had had an amazing lunch. After the late lunch, they had skipped Anjuna and headed here straight.

He spread his legs on the rocks. Kiara gently laid her head on his left shoulder. He looked around. Almost everyone was packed, with at least an awesome camera and a pair of binoculars. He seemed to be the only guy with just his phone and nothing else.

Diya caught Rishaan on her left stealing a glance at her.

The sea breeze stroked her face. She remembered how a guy had left her, and how Kiara had asked her to talk to Rishaan. She had said Rishaan could make her feel better, and he indeed did. He gave her strength, and company. He, along with Kiara, had been there for her when no one else had.

And if she was honest with herself, she would love to have a guy like him. She knew the lengths he would go to make happy those who mattered to him.

But he was Kiara’s. And she still didn’t actually believe that he fancied her.

The sky seemed like it had been layered with water, filled with yellow, and just touched with an orange brush tip. The orange spread, slowly consuming some yellow, merging with the rest.

Rishaan stroked Kiara’s head and played with her hair, which was still a bit wet from the sea. A wind blew, throwing her hair on his face. He nudged her head with his nose, and savoured the scent.

The sun sank. Kiara wished it could be like this forever. The sun, Rishaan, everything.

The sun disappeared and darkness slowly crept in.

 

Rishaan held the bike firm as Kiara got on behind him and wrapped her arms around him. Diya got on behind her.

He turned on the headlights, and raised the accelerator. The yellow plated bike drove off on the Goan road, leaving behind just smoke in their place.

 

The three of them were at Café Mambo, waiting for their dinner.

Kiara looked around. The place was amazingly lit and beautifully themed, and the music seemed to almost make her forget that she was tired. She guessed that the partying would be in full swing in a couple hours. Their party plans, however, were for the third day.

Some of her life’s most amazing moments had been with Rishaan and Kiara, but this easily beat them all. She was having the best time of her life. Except for the slight rudeness of their waiter, she couldn’t think of one thing that wasn’t perfect. But something seemed slightly different about this time.

She looked at Rishaan. He appeared tired too, but his messy hair looked really good. Diya sat on his other side.

She realized what was different. The three of them were very close, but she and Diya had been the original best friends. And even when the three were together, Diya usually sat with her.

Well, it wasn’t anything big, and certainly not something that should be bothering her.

 

The next day, Rishaan was standing on the white sands of Colva beach under the afternoon sun, holding Kiara’s hand. He had folded up his pants in Cavelossim, and they remained so now, the sea lapping his feet. He was laughing, looking at the Palm trees around, and the two girls beside.

Kiara and Diya wore the same kind of shorts. Kiara was jumping like she had springs fitted in her feet, and Diya was running around, her t-shirt fluttering.

A whistle blew. “Back off,” a lifeguard said, approaching them. “Don’t you see that? ” He pointed at the red flag close by. He then passed them, shouting at another group.

They walked through the shallow waters, moving a few feet away. Diya went farther into the sea. “I love this place!” she said.

The other two followed her. Diya went even farther.

Rishaan raised his head against the wind. It was just so amazing here.

“What’s this,” Diya’s voice said. He looked at her. She seemed to be having some problem with her feet under water.

He could never have foreseen what happened next.

She lost balance, and was dragged into the water. She went in just like that. There wasn’t even a shout.

Rishaan stood frozen.

And then something else happened.

He felt something hit his shoulder. He stood his ground, but Kiara fell into the water face first.

 

Something pulled her up from the water. She gasped and lunged for air. She was hyperventilating.

When her breathing began to slow down and her eyes could focus again, she realized she was lying on the sand on her back. Trying to calm down, she supported herself up with her elbows.

She saw Rishaan kneeling beside her. And a lifeguard dragging a lifeless Diya towards them.

The lifeguard placed Diya on the sand. “Sorry for bumping you,” was all he had to say. Kiara turned her gaze to the lifeguard and then back to Diya.

Rishaan stared at the body. All that cheeriness, all that excitement, all the life. . .The whole complex being she had been had simply ceased to exist. All those dreams and fears and everything she had ever been had simply stopped being.

 

The two of them sat on the bed in their hotel room. Rishaan felt relieved when he took his tired feet off the ground. Kiara just fell flat on the bed.

Rishaan turned around to find her staring at him.

“Ri?”

“Yes?”

She inhaled. “Good night.”

He watched her get into the bed. He turned back and sunk into his palms.

Empty.

That was how he felt.

He hated how irksome people could get. There had been an inevitable scene at the beach, with jobless reporters coming in right away. And after being denied the right to even mourn peacefully by delightful policemen, for hours, they were here. Finally.

He had shaken her a thousand times.

You can’t be dead! No, you wouldn’t do that me!

But you can’t just shake people to life.

He undressed, and crawled into bed too. He never slept that night, but he couldn’t remember what he had done either.

 

They checked out the next morning and were headed to Old Goa. Except for a few cuts, they decided to stick to the plan.

“There’s something I have to tell you,” Rishaan said. He sat behind Kiara, who was driving the yellow plated bike.

“Sounds scary.” Kiara’s reply was muffled by the wind.

“It’s about Diya,” he said.

“I can hear you alright, but I think you might have trouble because of the wind.”

“Just listen,” he said.

He took a deep breath. “If Diya had lived a few more hours, I could have proposed her.”

The bike stopped.

“Keep driving. I’ll keep you entertained till Old Goa.”

Kiara started the bike slowly, not saying anything in reply.

“Diya never told you anything?” He asked. No response.

“Kiara?”

“No,” she said curtly.

“I had thought she would. Eventually, at least. I’ve been hitting on her.”

At that moment, he prepared himself for a thousand things, from sudden brakes to crashing into a hedge.

Nothing happened.

“There are many things that should have split us long back, Ki, but every time something happened, we only came out stronger. Closer.”

A car with a horribly damaged bonnet passed them.

“I knew that if I tried to just leave you, it wouldn’t happen. But it could happen, if it was to be like I cheated and chose Diya.”

Kiara waited.

“Why would I want to do that? Because I’m just a messed up idiot. But I’m not just that. I’m also infertile.”

Kiara pushed down all thoughts that were swelling up inside. She tried to completely suppress everything, like she was unaffected.

But the bike was snaking instead of moving straight.

“Let me drive,” Rishaan said.

Before Rishaan began driving, he pulled a rag from inside and wiped the sweat off the handlebars.

 

The Basilica of Bom Jesus was huge. Kiara was staring at the vast ceiling, while Rishaan stared at the man in white around whom there were a lot of people.

He looked at someone saying something expressively to him, the Father. Maybe she was confessing.

There were times when he had thought the idea was stupid, but he could now see why someone would want to confess their sins. Not that it changed anything, but telling Kiara everything had been lightening.

There were a lot of people around. He walked slowly, wondering if any of them had loved ones taken away from them, like him.

The crowd, basically, was of two groups: one that came for their God, and another that came for photographs.

Rishaan was supposed to belong to the second group. But unlike most of them, he wasn’t moving along the walls with a camera in hand.

He slowly walked towards the grand golden sanctum sanctorum. He should have been in the first group, yes, but it seemed like Life was trying to push him into the second.

This is not even your religion, a voice said from within.

He kneeled down and closed his eyes.

Who cares.

It feels better on my knees.

 

“Rishaan.”

He turned towards Kiara. She sat at the window seat. The turbulence was over.

Three days had passed. And certainly not in a way he had even least expected them to.

“Before you say anything,” he said, “I… I’m sorry.”

Kiara ignored him. “When you’re born,” she said, “it’s like you’re born with a pen and a blank paper.”

Rishaan took in a deep breath, and leaned back.

“You can just scribble, write a poem, or create a drawing, or just do anything you want to. You can’t erase something you’ve done, but you can try to overwrite or correct it.

“And one day, you’ll have to put the pen down. Because you’ll run out of ink. Like Diya did.

“But that’s not the only reason people put their pens down. Sometimes, they put down a pen that still has ink left. Because their hand aches. Or because they don’t think there’s anything they can do on the paper.

“Is that what you want to do? Put down your pen even while it is still probably new?

“Don’t forsake this life of yours. Don’t give up when you still haven’t lost.

“During our last fight, the big one, I got involved with Diya a bit. Romantically. I certainly never wanted you to know this, but now, I want you know that you’re allowed to make mistakes.”

Five minutes of silence passed.

Rishaan’s cheek burned. She had slapped him.

“That was for the idiot you were. I love you, and I always will, no matter what.”

She slacked herself into a sleeping posture, held Rishaan’s hand, and closed her eyes.

He cried.


 

“My name is Diya,” the cute little girl in neat pigtails said.

“My father’s name is Rishaan, and my mother’s name is Kiara. I want to become a mountaineer and climb Mt.Everest.”

At the end of the introductions, the class teacher picked up her pink handbag. The English teacher arrived for her class, on time as she always was.

The class teacher was a woman who tried to appear like she was strict, just so that she wouldn’t be taken for granted. But inside, she was just another girl.

As she passed the English teacher while leaving the classroom, she motioned to a small girl in pigtails and whispered, “She’s a test tube baby.”

 

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “The Balls to Live

  1. Hello! You don’t have to post this. Your story makes me feel better. Thanks a ton. I am filled with an Evangelical zeal after reading this story. I really hate to say this to a person who has absolutely no flaws in his stories , the part where they continued the trip even after their friend passed away was quite contradictory. Who would ever do that? That’s quite rude and disrespectful. I understand people have different perceptions , but this was quite ridiculous. Apart from that , the story was amazing! Keep writing buddy! I really loved all of your other stories as well , they were relateable. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot!
      Maybe the death had an unimaginably deep effect on them. They found it something so hard to respond to that they just found going on like nothing had happened easier. That’s what we all do, right? Choose the easy thing over the right thing.

      Or maybe they thought it was what Diya would have wanted. It’s not like they weren’t solemn. Look out for the original plan for the third day, and at what they actually did.

      Or maybe they didn’t care about her and it was about them all along.

      Like

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s