She was struggling with his grip. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Your best friend dies today, but you are gonna have to die every single day”
I opened my eyes.
* What on earth was that??!! *
I was sweating bullets. My heart was pounding.
Slowly, getting back to reality, I sighed.
* Worst nightmare ever *
It was dark outside, still three or four hours away from dawn. I looked for my phone to check the time. But of course it was nowhere near my bed. Irritated by the number of calls I get from work, I preffered my cell phone switched off and away from my bed.
I haven’t seen any clock in my room since I’ve returned. Mom must have taken mine out. She must have been feeling sorry because nobody used it.
I could imagine my mom, getting into my room just one random day, looking at the clock and going, “Aw, you poor little thing, you must feel so lonely up here all alone, come, let’s take you to a less lonely place”, and carrying it all the way to the living room just so it could be in a more lively place with all the visitors and other people.
Just as I made my way out of my room, I heard something… something monotonous.
Oh my God! It was the landline ringing.
* People still use that? *
Then suddenly it hit me.
* Who’s calling this late? That too on the landline? Most people from work don’t even know that I was here. *
Then I realised it was probably just mom calling to check up on me.
* She must have gone to bed but instead of sleeping, she was up all night making up the worst possible scenarios of all that could happen to me in the “dark hours” of the night that I was supposed to spend alone in my own house. *
“Mom”, I sighed and rolled my eyes.
I picked up the receiver and before she could start with her ‘don’t-open-the-door-unless-it’s-me” thing, I said,” I’m alive Maa, go back to sleep. It’s just one night.”
“Serena”, said the person on the other side. His voice was husky and tired. The voice seemed familiar. I knew I had heard a lot of it a long time ago. I recognized, I just couldn’t put my finger on it.
“Yes. Who’s this?” I said slightly considering the fact that maybe Mom wasn’t a total paranoid.
“It’s me, Pragyan. I know it’s late but it’s bad news. Annie’s in hospital. She met with an accident an hour ago. The chances of survival are less.”
“What?!!” I heard the word coming out of my mouth while I gasped for breath.
“Wait! ‘S’… listen to me. I know you’ll be too screwed up to do anything right now, so I booked your ticket for the next flight to Delhi. Your flight is in two hours. You’ve got to get out of your place in less than half an hour. I’ll text you the details and…..”
I tuned out.
The nostalgia of our last meeting came flooding back.
We were at the airport, where she had come to see me off.
“Do I really have to go?” I asked her, making the puppy face.
She was forcefully (yes. forcefully) making me visit Mom back in our hometown.
“Yes, you do. You’ve been working too hard lately to save up. Take a break, go see your Mom. There are things you need to think about.”
I knew what she was talking about. It was about the selection of universities again.
Both of us had managed to get ourselves into two universities abroad in our respective subjects, I in English and she in History.
She had to select between Rhodes University, South Africa and Wake Forest University, North Carolina. I had to choose between University of Toronto in Canada and Appalachian State University in North Carolina.
The choice was easy for her as Wake Forest University in North Carolina is the dream university for anyone pursuing History.
For me? Ugh…not so much. You see, University of Toronto in Canada has the same reputation for English as Wake Forest in North Carolina does for History. But I didn’t want to go there. I wanted to go to Appalachian State University in North Carolina, beacuse she would be there too.
After spoiling me with all that love and succour, how did she expect me to face the world all alone now anyway? And it wasn’t like I was quitting my studies so that I could cook for her while she attends college or something. I just wouldn’t get the best. And that was okay for me if that meant I’d have her by my side. But of course, how could little miss rat ass agree to that? She, like every other time, had to put me first.
I rolled my eyes at her, “You really think Mom can talk me into this?” I said.
“You don’t need to be talked into. You just need to set your priorities right.”
The microphone announced for my flight.
I stood up, reluctantly and started walking slowly with my luggage. And then I turned around.
“First to Mom, then to Canada. Are you trying to get rid of me?” I said in a playful tone.
“You have no idea how bad”, she rolled her eyes and smiled.
And that moment I really didn’t want to leave. Something just felt so wrong.
P. S. – Unexpected turn of events? Wait for the next part *wink*