Kavita’s dream of garnering a job overseas at a hefty package came true when her company decided that she was the one employee suitable for handling exports in Dubai. All credits to her tireless work since last two months in the company that proved to be fruitful, and generated desired result for her. She couldn’t wait to reach home, and break this news to Radhika.
Kavita came springing across the little furniture they had in their lobby, and landed at the couch, opposite to the chair in which Radhika was comfortably sitting, dreaming with open eyes.
‘Hey miss! Look who is back!’ Kavita glanced at her lost friend. When Radhika did not turn, she threw a cushion at her.
‘Hey! You’re back?’
‘What an observation you have. No wonder why thieves are going to prefer our place to steal stuff!’ Kavita taunted.
‘Shut-up, will you? What happened? Why are you so happy?’
‘Oh, so you noticed that I’m happy?’ Kavita pulled her own cheeks into a wide smile.
‘You are not going to believe it Radhika, but I’m going!’
‘Where?’ Radhika stood up in surprise.
‘Dubai! My dream place, where else?’ Kavita jumped in joy. Radhika stood there dumbfounded, giving her body, some time to digest the sudden shock!
‘You can’t. It’s unfair. We live here. You can’t leave me…’ Radhika was shock-struck.
‘What happened to you? You should be happy for me, isn’t it? Look…’ Kavita started searching her huge handbag and finally found some pieces of paper, ‘Look, I also have the tickets for tomorrow night. I have so much packing to do and you have to help me right now! I need to leave for airport by evening tomorrow, I’ve also booked the cab…’ Kavita kept on narrating her plans to Radhika, but Radhika couldn’t assimilate the fact that the girl she had been living with since almost one year. The girl who was her lifeline and her ultimate support, was going away from her, leaving her alone in this huge city.
Radhika came to Mumbai only because of Kavita’s endless support and her convincing powers that helped her convince her parents in Varanasi to send her to Mumbai for a job. Her parents have always been restless since the day Radhika landed in Mumbai, but all she was concerned was about making her career and being financially independent. Confined walls of Varanasi had started suffocating her, and she needed an open ocean to breathe, something that Mumbai welcomed every passenger with. It wasn’t a city, it was a friend, a room-mate, a lifestyle that people had adopted over time. It was on nerves of Radhika too. She couldn’t think about going back to Varanasi. She couldn’t even think about leaving Aarush. What if he forgets her and finds a new girl? How can she leave such a nice guy despite being aware of his likeness towards her? It would be a sin!
‘So, when will you be back?’ Radhika was praying inside for Kavita to answer her back with a number of days. Kavita stuck up two fingers.
‘2 days?’ Kavita shook her head in disagreement.
‘2 weeks?’ Radhika guessed again, keeping her fingers crossed.
‘Years. At least 2 years. Babe, I’ve signed a 2 years bond with them, and after that my stay depends upon my performance and behaviour. It can even mean a lifetime!’ Kavita smiled.
Radhika hugged her tight. Maybe she was seeing Kavita for the last time in her life. Maybe they never meet again if she decides to get settled in Dubai, get married and have kids there!
‘So that means you’re never coming back?’
‘Hey! I’ll be back to attend your wedding at least. And what about Dubai? It’s hardly four hours away! We usually get stuck for that much time in Mumbai-traffic, what’s the big deal?’ she laughed. Even Kavita was suddenly emotional at the mention of the city that had provided her with everything. Mumbai was her dream when she used to roam in congested streets of Varanasi. Mumbai dared her to see another dream, of Dubai, and Mumbai helped her make that dream a reality too! She couldn’t just leave without crying out loud in the rains while snacking on a ‘vada-pav’ at a roadside stall. She was surely going to miss everything.
‘I can’t believe I spent four years in this city. I was 21 when I came here. I’m leaving when I’m 25. Older, wiser, mature and experienced! Everything that I wasn’t when I first arrived here in a train from Varanasi.’ Kavita was literally talking to herself as she glanced at the skyline of Mumbai which was shining afar with thick clouds threatening to burst over the city!
‘Hey, you want to take this with you?’ Radhika patted Kavita’s back. She was holding a perfume that Kavita had gifted to her on her last birthday.
‘Since I never gave you any present, so I’m giving you mine. You can wear it when you remember me…’ Radhika handed over the perfume to Kavita. They both hugged tighter than ever. They both were crying inside, but both of them were now strong enough to conceal it.
‘What’s the time of your flight tomorrow?’ Radhika asked.
‘2 am morning. But I have to check in by 11 pm, so I’ll leave by 9. You can never trust Mumbai’s traffic. I have to keep some time in hand, in case I get late.’
‘I understand. So you’re free tomorrow, aren’t you? Let’s go out tonight. Have dinner together. I’ll ask Aarush to not expect me, wait…’ Radhika picked up her phone and walked aside.
After a minute she was back, and they both went to party that night to Blue Frog. Radhika had filed a resignation at her office. She was on a notice period since last three months and tomorrow, she decided to take an off to sleep and spend the last day of her friend in Mumbai with her. They returned home at 5 in the morning, and slept for the next fourteen hours straight. The next evening, they got up at 07 pm and hurriedly got ready for airport. Taking a quick shower and wrapping up the packing, they were at the ground floor of their building by 09 pm. The taxi driver was here as expected. They both got in and reached airport by 10:30 pm.
‘I knew it. I knew that traffic at late evening was unimaginable. Thank god!’ Kavita unloaded all the bags from the taxi, and Radhika helped her. They were standing outside the Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport. Kavita was counting her bags and Radhika was looking at her watch which displayed 10:50 pm. Only 10-20 minutes more, and Kavita would be gone.
‘So…’ Radhika was short of words.
‘I’ll miss you…’ Kavita stepped forward and hugged her.
‘Sir…can you please take a photo of us?’ Radhika approached a stranger and handed over her Samsung phone to him. The man gladly took a photo of two emotional girls on the verge of a breakdown.
‘Thanks…’ Radhika took the phone back while wiping off her tears.
‘I’ll miss you too, buddy. You changed my life…’ Radhika hugged her for the last time. Kavita picked up her bags and loaded the heavy ones on the trolley.
‘Hey…’ Radhika said and Kavita turned around, ‘I need to tell you something.’
‘What?’ Kavita asked while glancing at her watch, it was 11:05 already.
‘WHAT?’ Kavita dropped her handbag where she was standing and rushed towards Radhika.
‘Yeah, Aarush and I kissed at Marine Drive yesterday. I wanted to tell you but couldn’t. I think he’s totally over Koel now, and I believe that he’s falling in love with me too. I just don’t want to rush things…’
‘I’m so happy for you!’ Kavita wrapped her arms around Radhika and they both danced while hugging each other.
‘But I will still warn you to stay careful. He’s like super-glue. You can’t get rid of him easily, once he’s stuck’ Kavita winked, ‘I think that’s my announcement. I need to check-in…’ she walked into the airport gates. Radhika stood there smiling and crying. She was happy for Kavita, but sad for her loneliness. Goodbyes are always the hardest!