1AM, Kapil’s Apartment
Kapil was snoring away to glory on his newly bought mattress. He was having a stressful week at work and an equally stressful time after. His best friend was upset and he could seldom help him in sorting out his messed up life. The only “me-time” he had was in his apartment where lately he only crashed to catch on some sleep. He was satisfied with himself today as he finally came up with a plan which made sense to both him and his best friend – Avi. It was a few weeks ago that he and Avi orchestrated a plan for Avi to meet an arranged marriage suitor – Shraddha and come up with a fake wedding. They knew it was dangerous and too many people would be hurt in the process but they reckoned it was worth a shot. The worst part was Shraddha turned out to be an extremely nice girl and both the boys felt terrible for having putting her through this.
Kapil heard the sound of broken glass at a distance. He waited for a couple of seconds before opening his eyes, hoping it to be a sound in his dreams. Almost convincing himself it was just something he had imagined, he heard the T.V go off in full volume. Damn! The plan clearly failed, he cursed himself. He reluctantly got out of the bed and put on his t-shirt. As much as he felt terrible for Avi, he did want to have that sleep he was longing for in weeks now. As he reached the living room, he noticed the broken wine glass near the dining table. His eyes moved to the couch where his best friend was lying, half his head tilted mid-way towards the carpet.
“Hey buddy, you okay? You’re taking hanging at my place too seriously now!“,Kapil reached out his palm under Avi’s dangling head and placed it on the couch. He took the empty wine bottle from Avi’s hand and settled it on the couch next to him. Avi was quiet, gazing incessantly at the T.V.
“Katrina’s got some moves there man, we should go watch this movie“, Kapil attempted to cheer up Avi. His enthusiasm was greeted with silence.
“Spill it out man, you know you want to“, Kapil insisted.
Avi didn’t move.
Kapil dug his face into both his palms, “Ugh, Avi what the hell happened? Did someone die?”
Avi took a deep breath, “Her good-for-nothing boyfriend proposed”
“Exactly what I asked. She said she needs time”
“One helluva nerdy timing he has, we’ll have to give him that”
“All those god-aweful predictions of your concluding that she’ll realise her feelings for me once she sees the wedding card have clearly gone down the drain!“, Avi sighed in disappointment.
“Ugh what a backfire man! I guess you’ll have to marry Shraddha then, at least someone’s agreed to marry you!“, Kapil’s chuckle was met a huge couch pillow from Avi. As awful as Kapil’s comment sounded, it did manage to put a grin on Avi’s face.
Kapil managed to lighten up the air but the duo seldomly reckoned they were in soup.
1AM, Mouni’s Apartment
“Ma!, wake up“, Mouni shook Mrs. Verma inside her bed.
“It’s past midnight Mou, can’t this wait?“, Mrs. Verma tried to shoo her daughter away.
“This is super important Ma, please I need your opinion“, Mouni persisted.
“All right“, Mr.Verma sat straight on her bed clearly annoyed to have woken up at this hour, she missed her afternoon nap earlier due to Avi’s visit and now her daughter was meddling with her dear sleep.
“If this has anything to do with the NASA offer or your that boy muse of yours, I am going back to sleep”,she declared “We have been through this discussion several times Mou, there’s never a conclusion to it“, Mrs. Verma frowned with one eye open and struggling to open the other eye.
“Ma, it’s Avi!”
Mrs.Verma felt wide awake now, Mouni had clearly caught her attention.
“What is it beta, is it his wedding invite?“, Mrs. Verma was bustling with curiosity.
“No Ma, of course not. I am happy for him!”
“Are you really?”
“Ma!“, Mouni was losing her patience now. Why was everyone asking her the same question. She was point-blank clueless.
“He sounded weird Ma! I mean he was acting all distant and so stupid. He asked me to go away coz apparently he has a jealous type fiance. Can you believe that?“, Mouni reasoned partly with her puzzled mother and partly with her own perplexed feelings. Mrs. Verma placed her palms on her daughter’s shoulder and placed a gentle pat.
“Whatever this feeling is Ma, it will have to wait. At least until the space mission is over“, she reasoned with herself.
“I just hope it’s not too late beta!“, Mrs.Verma sighed, she couldn’t possibly say anything that could console her daughter’s mixed feeling at this point. Mouni has aspired to be an astronaut at ISRO all her life and she had finally received an opportunity to go into space and her mother knew well that she wouldn’t compromise at any cost to give up her dream.
“I guess I’ll have to live with it Ma! As you always say, there’s plenty of fish in the sea to bait!“, she smiled and cuddled herself next to her mother.
“Not all stories can end well Ma, guess ours is the odd one out!”
Later that week, Avi received a text on his phone:
“Setting off for my space mission Avi. Enjoy the wedding, save some Mishti Doi for me, will ya?!
P.S: Ours will be my favourite ‘What IF’ story!”