Aarush’s apartment was messed up. Radhika hadn’t cleaned anything today. Neither did she want the maid to come in. She spent the whole day, doing what she wanted to do and that was crying. For the entire day, she was lying on Aarush’s bed, on his shirt, enchanted by the fragrance of him, but crying because she knew she was close to losing him. She knew how much Aarush loved and valued Koel and today, if she would’ve said yes to his proposal without telling him about Koel’s return, it would be unfair on her part as well as unfair for Aarush too.
Radhika got up, splashed her face with water multiple times. She looked at her miserable self. Her eyes, swollen and puffed up, red as blood. Her mascara all smeared around her eyes, making them black. Her lipstick, spread all over her chin and around her lips. She looked terrible. She took out her makeup remover from the cupboard behind the mirror in the bathroom and cleaned up her face, but her swollen eyes were enough to narrate her story today.
She got out of the bathroom and checked the time. It was 11 pm. She hadn’t eaten anything all day. She had no idea about Aarush’s whereabouts either. He usually came home by 7 but today, he was nowhere to be seen.
Afraid and worried, Radhika picked up her phone. There was no message or call from Aarush. She called him. His phone was switched off.
‘What the hell?’ Radhika called again and again, till the clock struck 12.
‘Aarush please pick up the phone, I can explain.’ Radhika was trying incessantly but there was no answer from his side.
The time was 01 am. There was no sign of Aarush. Even his phone was off. She called Love.
‘Love? Do you know where Aarush is?’
‘Hey…Radhika?’ Love woke up from his deep-sleep.
‘Hi, do you know where Aarush is?’
‘Aarush? Isn’t he home with you?’
‘No, I don’t know where he is, even his phone is switched off.’
‘What the hell? He said he was going out on lunch with you. I booked the Intercontinental for you guys. Weren’t you together?’
‘We were Love, but we indulged into a fight and I left at 02:30 after noon. I have no message or call from him since.’
‘What are you talking about? He said he was going out with you and after that even I didn’t call him because I thought I might disturb you guys.’
‘No, Love. I’m very scared. Can you please come home?’
‘Don’t worry, I’m coming. Let me call at some places that I know of and see if there’s any sign of him.’
‘Please help me, Love…’ Radhika hung up. She sat in front of her bed, curling her legs up and wrapping her arms around her legs. She was scared. She knew him well enough to understand that he wasn’t a person to take up a public insult. She knew he might never come back to her after the stunt she pulled today at the restaurant, but she had no other option either.
‘What the hell have I done!’ Radhika cursed herself for being so stupid. She could’ve made him understand her reason. She could have told him about Koel, but no. She had to say ‘No’ to him in front of twenty couples!
‘Please Aarush. Come back…I promise I’ll never do something like that ever again…please come back…’ she was hugging his shirt and crying.
‘Radhika?’ her doorbell rung and Love was shouting from outside.
‘Coming…’ Radhika wiped off her tears and ran towards the door.
‘Hey…any sign of Aarush?’
‘No, I called at his favourite bar and even drove across the Marine Drive. I couldn’t find him or his car anywhere. His car isn’t even in the parking of your building. Where is he? Didn’t he tell you anything? What happened exactly?’ Love shot question after question at Radhika who was already perplexed.
‘Come inside, I’ll tell you everything.’ Radhika closed the door behind Love.
Radhika narrated today’s entire episode to Love along with the exact timeline and also told him about her reason of saying ‘no’ and Koel’s unexpected return.
‘Damn!’ Love was speechless after listening to everything.
‘I know. What should I do now?’ Radhika wiped off her tears from the corner of her eyes.
‘Let me call Sahil and see if he knows something about him.’ Love walked outside and made a few calls to some of his and Aarush’s mutual friends, but none of them had any idea about him or his location. His phone was switched off since a long time now. Sahil told Love that he tried Aarush’s phone at 05 pm today to discuss something, but even then, it was switched off.
‘What if something has happened to him?’ Radhika started crying uncontrollably.
‘Hey…calm down, please. We are all tensed here. Wait here, and let me catch up with Sahil. We will inform you if we find him anywhere.’
‘Where will you search him?’
‘Entire Mumbai…!’ Love said and walked out of her apartment.
‘Can I come with you?’
‘No…you better stay and wait for our call. Try to sleep if possible.’ Love shut the door and walked out. Radhika knew, sleeping alone in so much tension like this, was out of the question. She took out Koel’s parcel and started going through the photos of Koel and Aarush together. They were so happy, going through a good time. And now, Radhika’s one step made him disappear.
‘Love, any sign of him?’ Radhika called Love at 03:30 am.
‘No, nothing till now. We are thinking to file a police complaint.’
‘Oh my God!’
‘Please Radhika, don’t cry. We are all in so much shit already. Be strong, we will find him out, don’t worry.’ Love hung up. Sahil and Love were trying their best to find any sign of Aarush. Sahil came up with a brilliant idea. He asked Love to drive to The Intercontinental, so they could ask the manager of the hotel about Aarush and maybe they have some information about him.
Radhika was worried and scared. She was praying to all her Gods since four hours now, but none seem to answer her back.
‘I’ll never behave like that with you, Aarush. Please come back…’ Radhika sobbed with folded hands.