Ved was eagerly waiting for a call from Swapna.
According to their plan, Ved was supposed to meet Swapna’s parents on this day and tell them that they are in love with each other. They both finished their graduation recently and got into good jobs as part of campus recruitment. Swapna told him that her parents are broad-minded and would easily agree for their wedding.
Ved sat in front of the mirror and practiced his dialogues for the day. Swapna already trained him and gave him enough support for him to feel more confident.
Swapna had to call him before ten in the morning and he had to meet her parents by five in the evening on this day. Ved did not get any call from Swapna till noon. He started getting worried if things did not go as planned when she announced it to her parents. He tried calling her on her mobile phone. But it was switched off since last night. He did not dare to call their land phone yet.
Ved assumed that Swapna might have cancelled the plan due to some unforeseen circumstances. So, he gave up the idea of waiting and went to another room to watch some movies on television.
Within a few minutes, his mobile phone rang. Ved came running, only to see that it was his friend Girish.
“Hey Ved, I have some really tragic news for you. I don’t know how to tell you this,” said Girish in a depressed voice.
“Is this some prank? I don’t have the time or energy. I’m waiting for Swapna’s call. We’ll talk later,” replied Ved.
“I called to tell you about Swapna. You know that she was supposed to return to town this morning by bus. That bus caught fire last night mid-way and all the travelers were burnt beyond recognition. It is really depressing to see the remains of the bus. Swapna is one of them and she could not survive. Her parents could only identify her luggage in the bus. The news of bus accident is being shown on all the news channels. You can check out for yourself,” said Girish.
Ved was devastated. Tears started rolling down his eyes and he felt dismay. He was at loss of words. The next few minutes were some of the most depressing moments in his life. He wanted to cry out loud and shout out his grief. However, something was stopping him from inside. He wanted to go to her house and see her luggage. He wanted to hold her clothes and feel her for one last time. He thought he could not cry until he went to her house.
After a few minutes of silence, he said, “Can you take me to her house? I want to meet her parents. I want to see her luggage. Can you come and pick me up? I don’t think I can drive now.”
Girish obliged and reached Ved’s house within twenty minutes. They both drove to Swapna’s house.
It was a funeral procession outside her house. The scene was too depressing and Ved could not control his emotions. He could not imagine his life without Swapna. He felt as though his world has come to a full stop outside her house. He stood outside her house in silence. He felt as though darkness engulfed him from all directions.
Girish consoled him and took him inside.
As he entered the house, Ved felt something positive. He did not like this contrasting feeling that was troubling him. This was the same feeling he got when he got into his college on the first day. Whenever he felt such positive surge of instincts, he knew that he would have some good time at that place. Ved could not believe his instincts. How can he possibly have wonderful future experiences in this house when the only link, his love, has died? How can he ever have positive experience any time again in his life. He tried to step out of the hallucination and realize that it is all over. He felt as though his mind was playing games with him.
As he went inside the house, he felt the surge of positive energy once again within him. He could not believe himself. This contradiction troubled him more than anything else in his life.
Ved tried reasoning his mind. The only way he could feel happy is to know that Swapna is still alive. He realized that there is no other reason why he should feel the positive surge of energy despite the reality that she is dead. As always, he did trust his instincts again and came to the conclusion that Swapna is alive.
Ved immediately dragged Girish out of the house and told, “Something is wrong here. Swapna is not dead. She is alive. I feel her life around me.”
Girish tried to console him by saying, “I understand that this is really a tragic situation for you. I know that you cannot come to terms with her death yet. Take your time. Do you want to grab some beer? I hope I could do anything to make you feel better.”
Ved was tired of condolences he was getting from Girish. He said, “Listen. This is not about me accepting reality. I have a gut instinct that is telling me that Swapna is alive somewhere. We cannot let her parents hold this ceremony for her. They cannot hold the funeral rites for someone who is alive.”
Girish could not fathom the ideas put forth by Ved. He said, “Gut instinct? It is just a hallucination. You are going through a phase. This will pass too. Please try to control yourself.”
Ved was furious and he said, “Remember I told you about one of our professors. I told you that he would not continue with us in the third semester. As expected, he got an awesome offer from some other premium college and he left us. Long before he left us, I got this feeling whenever I met him that those were the last few days he would spend with us. Likewise, I knew it beforehand that my grandmother would not survive her cancer. I could feel the pain of separation from her long before the doctors diagnosed her cancer. My parents were surprised when I told them that we need to request her to stay with us as we might not get more time with her. My father was very angry initially. But, later, he realized that my prediction was coming true. We could spent some time with her during her last days.”
Girish could not believe what he was listening. He said, “Alright. Let us assume your instincts are right. Because you are my friend, I am ready to believe. But, how are we going to convince her parents not to do the ceremony, now? Please give it up. Let us go away from here. If she is really alive, she will come soon and meet both of us.”
Ved replied, “More than the funeral rites, I’m worried about the health of her parents and her sister. I should tell them not to get depressed and that she is very much alive.”
Girish said, “You cannot do that. They will think that you are mad. Don’t make a fool of yourself in there.”
Without listening to his friend’s advice, Ved rushed inside the house and looked around for her parents.
Ved ran towards her mother and said, “Aunty, please listen. Swapna is not dead. She is alive.”
Swapna’s mother replied, while crying, “I know she was in love with you. She is very much alive in all of our hearts. I can hear her words and see her smile in my mind. My little angel, she is always there for me.”
Ved nodded in rejection and told her, “No. I’m telling the truth. She did not die. I cannot feel the grief. She is very much alive. My instincts say that she is alive. Please do not be sad and stop these funeral rites. ”
Swapna’s father tried to reason Ved for some more time. After some time, Swapna’s father could not control his emotions and started shouting at Ved, “If I had known that my daughter loved some psychopath like you, I would have not agreed. I wonder how she ever loved you. There is no respect in your words. You have no manners. You are disrupting our procedures. We are already so sad and depressed. You are adding fuel to the fire of our sorrow. Get away from my home.”
After some more minutes of arguments and disagreements, Swapna’s father and her relatives dragged Ved out of their house saying that he is mad and he should not disturb them any more.
Ved and Swapna’s father had more discussion on the road outside her house.
As Ved kept requesting Swapna’s father to trust him this one time, an ambulance came into the street and stopped right in front of their house.
To everybody’s shock and surprise, Swapna stepped out of the ambulance. She is hurt in the head and she limps a bit. But, she is very much alive. Most of the people could not believe her return.
Swapna’s mother came running and hugged her and kissed her forehead and cheeks. Tears of happiness started rolling their eyes when they realize that she is alive.
Swapna’s father apologized to Ved.
Swapna told them that she got hurt in the wash room last night when the bus stopped for dinner. The driver took her to a hospital and admitted her there. The bus accident happened after this episode. She was unconscious for at least six hours. Her luggage was left in the bus. The hospital authorities let the ambulance drive her to this city to her home.
Ved, finally, hugged Swapna and felt glad his instincts did not deceive him. More than that, he was happy Swapna was there for him, alive.