Missing Akash – A Short Story
Neha was 23 plus when her mother called her to the living room. Both her parents were sitting and her mother looked very excited.
Neha: What is it mom?
Mom: A very good piece of news for you! Remember we went for a marriage party of your cousin sister…couple of months ago?
Neha: Yeah..I do. So?
Mom: A lady saw you and liked you a lot! She sent us a proposal of her nephew for you!
Neha: I am not getting married now! I will make a good career of my own first…I…
Mom: It’s Okay Neha! You can always settle your career – we are not belonging to some remote rural village that we will force you to marry him immediately!
Neha: I have just finshed my MBA….I will work for couple of years and then get married..
Her father smiled at her and said: Be careful Neha! All the good ones will be taken by then!
Neha: Dad please! Whoever I am destined to marry, he will come for me….and anyway, who is he, what does he do that both of you are so excited about!
Mom: See his Facebook pictures first….he is so good looking….5’11”, Engineer, working in the US!
Neha took the iPad from her mother and saw him – Akash Malhotra….and boy! He was good looking no doubt – she thought!
Keeping her emotions to herself – she pretended that she was used to seeing such good looking boys in her college – so it was not all that big a deal!
Neha: yea..he looks ok..
Mom: Ok? Is that all you have to say about him! He is well settled, belong to a good and known family, his parents are very decent people – I met them and even talked to them during the wedding and he is the only son – such a package deal he is Neha… and such a lovely proposal fell on our lap – even without our asking! This is a stroke of sheer good luck!
Neha: So what do you want me to do – call him up right away and tell me that I am ready to marry and please marry me asap!?
Mom: Of course not…they are coming to meet us tomorrow.
Neha: Really Mom?! I mean I don’t even know anything about a person and you have already invited them!?
Mom: It all happened suddenly! In the morning today, they were watching the marriage video – they were visiting some relatives here in Kolkata – they are settled in Delhi…and they saw you performing the dance that you, Meghna and Suchitra performed….remember the song from the film…
Neha: Of course I remember Mom – so what happened next?
Mom: Well – they pointed you out and asked about you and your Priya Maasi immediately took the opportunity and called us and fixed up the appointment for tomorrow! Akash will also be coming tomorrow!
Neha: Ok….but they should be made aware that I will marry only after a few years…I am not going to become a typical housewife and sit at home…I will not let my MBA go wasted!
Mom: All that can be discussed later – you tell me what are you going to wear tomorrow….
Both Neha and her mother head towards Neha’s bedroom to decide upon the dress and jewellery for the next day…
Neha got up early in the morning and did some quick self-facial. Neha was fair and pretty good looking herself and she was very confident about her looks too! She had turned down many proposals already – she had been doing so since school days. She had maintained a good figure and she too was a topper in her school and college…she knew that even she was a package deal….and was pretty proud of the fact too!
Akash came with his family. They all started chatting and Neha was asked to take Akash to the balcony and discuss things if they wanted to. Neha and Akash gelled well..very well in fact and soon they were cracking jokes and discussing their favourite authors, actors and politicians….
Akash: So what are your career plans?
Neha: We had a campus interview this Monday and I am positive that I will get through….it is my dream job!
Akash: I see…but you must be aware of the fact that our marriage…if it has to happen, will be arranged within 2 months time..because I am flying to the US after 3 months and my parents don’t want me to go alone….they want me to get married and then go..you know how things are with parents – they think the moment I land in the US, I will find an American woman standing with a garland and I will marry her instantly!
They both laughed at the joke.
Neha: Are you crazy!? If the marriage has to happen…it will be only after 3 to 5 years – not before that, never before that.
Akash was a little taken aback listening to her adamant behaviour.
Akash: Hmm…I see, let’s see what my parents say to this!
They changed the topic and again started discussing things of mutual interest.
Their parents called them inside.
They were all ready to leave, they had to catch the late night flight back to Delhi so they were in a hurry.
Priya Maasi: All well! Did you take his phone number?
Akash just smiled and Neha turned to tell her number to him – Give me a missed call – then I will save your number. Akash instantly gave her the missed call and saved her number.
Everyone laughed thinking it was a sure shot sign of a ‘Yes’!
3 days passed but Akash never called! Neha was a bit taken aback by this attitude of Akash – never in her life had some such thing happened – guys usually called her instantly and she was expecting the same from Akash.
2 weeks passed – no call. She did not ask anything from her parents. Her mother often asked her if Akash called and she rather screamed back saying she had better things to do than to wait for a call from Akash…although deep within she was dying to hear from him! His jovial nature, his sense of humour, his good looks – everything was so perfect…he was such a perfect match she thought!
After the 3rd week, she decided to put aside her ego and Whatsapped him.
She just wrote –‘Hey! What’s up?….where did you vanish!?’
No reply. She often checked her phone to see the blue ticks…whether he had received her message or not! In the meantime, she also joined a job in an MNC and there was celebration at home….with school and college friends – she was enjoying…but she felt her enjoyment would have increased…had Akash been a part of the celebration! She was pretty perturbed by her own thoughts – never before had she felt like this for anyone…and here she was trapped most of the time in the thoughts of a man she had met once for 4 hours only!
She finished dinner and was watching TV. It was already 11 pm when she heard her phone beep. She saw Akash’s response to her whatsapp message….
He: Hey! I was busy the entire day…..just got to see your message! By the way – congrats – heard you bagged the job…your dream job!
She: Yup! Thanks…where have you been….seemed that you vanished in thin air…
He: Lol! not really – you know my family has been looking around for a suitable bride – so was busy with that!
She: I see…so did you find any?
(Neha was quite sure that no one could match the benchmark that she had set for him)
He: Oh well – Yes! Today was my haldi rasam…that is why I could not respond to your message – since morning I have been going through one ritual after the other!
Neha fell from the sky! In flat three weeks his marriage was fixed and he was about to tie the knot!
She: Oh! Congrats! That was rather fast huh! Who is the lucky girl?
He: Her name is Ritu Saxena – I think you know her…. She also came to the same wedding where our parents met…she is your Priya Mashi’s friend’s daughter.
Ritu! Of all the girls Ritu – thought Neha….Ritu wasn’t half as pretty as her – she was many shades darker than her in fact with her forehead full of pimples! She had passed from a Government college and was not ambitious at all…..how could Akash say Yes to her…thought Neha!!
Neha (pretending to be happy for Akash) : Yeah ok..I know her – she is a very simple girl…
Akash: Yeah – I was bowled over by her simplicity! Am getting married day after tomorrow…I think we sent you an invite…..but in case we missed I apologise – do try to come – your Priya mashi is coming…
Neha; Sure, I will try….ok, Gnite – its pretty late!
Akash- Yeah! Gnite.
Neha couldn’t believe what she just read! She had lost Akash for good! She felt a piercing sensation in her heart – she was breathless….she could not imagine that Akash would turn her down for Ritu…yikes! Ritu of all people!! Neha could not accept it. She had a bad sleepless night!
Next morning she told her mother about Akash getting married to Ritu.
Mother: Yeah…I also heard it…Priya told me..
Neha almost screamed at her mother : And you did not think it necessary to tell me about it!?
Her mother was surprised at Neha’s reaction!
Mother: What is there to tell…you were clearly not interested in getting married – and I saw that you were pretty happy with your new job – so I just let it be!
Neha: But you could have told me once!
Mother: Why? What would you have done? Akash chapter is over now – you move on with your life and career…
Neha could clearly feel the sarcasm in her mother’s voice…she did not argue any further.
She called Priya Aunty and said that she would like to attend Akash’s wedding.
Aunty: Are you sure!?
Neha: Of course…..he invited me himself – So pick me up when you go.
Aunty: Ok…as you wish – but you really missed a great opportunity – your ticket to the US….Ritu’s room is full of such expensive gifts….Akash’s mother herself took Ritu to expensive boutiques and got the choicest of sarees and jewellery for her….and you should see Ritu….she fell madly in love with Akash the day she saw him….he took her out for dinner to a very expensive hotel….and then Akash took her to Diya Diamonds…and formally proposed her with a diamond ring……she was saying that her life has literally turned into a fairy tale!!
Neha could not bear to listen to Ritu’s fairy tale but she somehow managed to listen through the story!
Next day Neha fixed an appointment with the beauty parlour, she decided to bunk office because she wanted to look her best for the wedding. She wanted Akash to see what he had missed…
Priya Aunty came to pick Neha up in the evening. Priya was surprised to see the efforts Neha took to look so gorgeous for the occasion! It was pretty clear to both Neha’s mother and Priya aunty that Neha was already regretting her decision to turn down such a good proposal!
Ritu was looking pretty too – in her bridal finery! Neha went up the dais and congratulated them both. Akash even mentioned that she was looking gorgeous and many will fall flat by just looking at her! They all had a hearty laugh ….but deep inside Neha was repenting for having lost Akash.
Life came back to regular routine. Neha’s performance was much appreciated in office and she got rapid promotions and salary hikes. She was happy professionally….but her personal life wasn’t as good.
Neha became the CEO of a renowned Company at 34! She was going places – touring all over the world and was covered by Business magazines too. She was turning down one proposal after the other…and now it was more difficult to find her a partner – matching her calibre and status! Even old haggard – divorcees and widowers had started to propose her….since she had crossed the wrong side of 30!
She often saw pictures of Ritu and Akash on Facebook – they had two children and often shared their vacation pictures on social networks. Neha had once visited them while she was on a tour to the US. Ritu had changed a lot – she had started looking prettier and looked more confident than ever! Akash looked more handsome with age and he was a very loyal husband too…Neha even tried to flirt with him a bit just so that she could get over him – had he responded positively to her flirtatious approach…..but Akash never showed any interest to flirt with her…and that pained Neha even more…..she had lost such a good deal that had fallen on her lap!
At 38 Neha eventually tied the knot with a divorcee – 7 years older to her settled in UK. HE had a 6 years old daughter and wanted a good lady to bring up his daughter graciously. Prabir told Neha that along with a good wife he was looking for a good mother too. Prabir had divorced his wife – Ambika – because she was promiscuous and was spending his money like water in her licentious adventures. Prabir had hired a detective agency to keep an eye on his wife and it was a pretty easy job for them to collect evidence about her promiscuous nature. Divorce came through and he got the custody of his daughter as it was proved that Ambika would be a bad role model for her daughter!
Prabir had a good sense of humor and was a successful entrepreneur. Neha got married, shared her pictures all across social media….waited for Akash’s ‘like’ and remarks and was glad to receive ‘As gorgeous as ever’ from him!
Years passed, Neha took up charge of Monika (Prabir’s daughter) and did her best to be a perfect mother. What she did not know was that Monika was constantly in touch with Ambika and she always poisoned her against Neha. Ambika was glad that at least Neha proved to be a good maid servant/ governess to her daughter as she took the troubles of attending school meetings, take her to dance and piano classes and fulfil her unending demands….the demands were actually Ambika’s way to irritate & throw out Neha …but Neha always seemed to solve and fulfil Monika’s whimsical demands! Monika hated to dance or even play the piano….but she was just carrying out her mother’s (Ambika’s) demands to keep her step mother (Neha) under pressure!
Monika turned 16 and she made inappropriate friends who were into drugs and reckless sex – Ambika had introduced Monika to such friends just to prove that Neha was a failure as a mother! Neha could make out that Monika was drunk most of the time and her eyes were swollen all the time. She was shocked to find condoms in her purse and lots of ruckus was created over the issue! Prabir also screamed at Neha saying that she did not love Monika enough – else she would not have become exactly like her mother Ambika! They later even found out that Ambika was constantly in touch with Monika but by that time things had turned really bitter for all three of them – Prabir, Neha & Monika!
Neha asked for a divorce and was instantly given on the basis of zero alimony. Neha did not bother about money since she herself had enough money of her own. She shifted back to India and joined her parents. She gathered that she worked for Prabir as a free maid servant to bring up his daughter….but as they say ‘like mother, like daughter’ – Monika too wanted to lead a reckless adventurous life with lots of drugs, alcohol and sex! After Neha had shifted back to India – she got couple of frantic calls from Monika – asking for her forgiveness etc. – because Prabir was trying to disown his daughter as well…which meant that both mother and daughter will have to lead the life of ‘Pick-up’ girls for the rest of their lives! Neha turned a deaf ear and changed her phone number – she could not tolerate the little imp and the game she played with her along with her mother – Monika was perhaps the first instance of Neha’s failure in life…otherwise Neha was usually successful in most of her ventures!
Back home Neha was surfing through the net. Her mother gave her a surprise gift to celebrate her 49th birthday ….and she happened to look at the computer screen. The Facebook profile of Akash was open with both Akash & Ritu celebrating their daughter’s wedding. They had invited Neha also but she was going through the tough divorce phase and could not attend the wedding!
Her mother understood one thing clearly……Neha still missed Akash!