It is 2 am in the morning and professor Aravind is eagerly waiting for me to resume my story. He asked me “Was your plan successful Arjun?”
I sipped my glass as I continued “I managed to lie to Duryodhan that I was a cop. I was waiting for Krishna to explain the situation to Malini. Meanwhile, I could see Malini walking towards the chariot. I felt like my life was coming full circle. The feeling of hatred towards myself started from her and it was coming to an end with her. She was surprised to see me there, but I avoided eye contact. Malini was taking photos with her friends but I couldn’t see Krishna there. I asked Malini “Where is Krishna?”
She replied “She will be here.”
The charioteer also was there but there was no sign of Krishna anywhere. I and Malini sat in the chariot waiting for Krishna. I could see Duryodhan and Malini’s father walking angrily towards the chariot. They had discovered that we came there to break the marriage. Even though I didn’t believe in god, I felt that only he could save us from that situation. Before I could process any thought, I could sense a momentum in the chariot. The chariot horses began to gallop with the wind. The charioteer turned towards me, it was Krishna. I was pleasantly surprised.
“When did you get in, Krishna?”
She replied “How couldn’t you notice the short, curly haired charioteer, Arjuna?”
Even though I managed a laugh, I could see Malini’s father’s car chasing us. Krishna asked me to divert their attention. I became a little tense, unable to do anything so quickly.
Krishna turned again “Arjuna calm down and think wisely”
I thought for a while and came up with an idea. I made a catapult using some items in her backpack. I asked Krishna to slow down. She gave a puzzled look but I was confident about my idea. As she slowed down, the car behind us caught up and was about to overtake us. In that exact moment I aimed the cork at the silencer of the car. I felt like it would be the last thing in my life which I would aim at. I targeted the silencer hole and released the cork.”
I paused and gulped down the last of my glass. Professor Aravind asked curiously “Were you successful?”
I continued “For the first time in my life I hit the target. The cork hit the silencer and blocked the exhaust. As the car stopped, Krishna yelled “Nice one Arjuna.” I felt really happy. We rode on like that for an hour until we reached the Airport highway. Malini’s friends were waiting for her. She got down and thanked Krishna. I avoided talking to her so I stayed afar. But she came towards me and said “Despite everything you still came here to help a girl, who left only bitter memories for you. Being loved is the greatest thing in this world, but no one ever values it for themselves. Even I didn’t. I wish I could go back in time and stitch back our relationship” She was in tears as she added, “Thank you, Arjun, for being in my life.” And then she left.
I remained silent for a few moments afterwards. Krishna broke the silence and asked “What happened Arjuna?”
I said “Five years of hatred didn’t even last for five minutes Krishna. Only girls have this power to dilute the acid of anger. Unfair, don’t you think?”
Krishna laughed. I sat in the chariot and waited for Krishna to come. She saw me sitting at the back and said “It’s been centuries but somethings never change Arjuna.”
I asked “What is it?”
She replied “Krishna being the charioteer for Arjuna. This is also very unfair Arjuna.”
I laughed and said “It better be this way Krishna.”
We continued our journey. Krishna said that she will drop me at my place. We talked about various things, cracked jokes about the kidnappers during the journey. As the sun went down the horizon, we reached our place.
I said “It was great talking to you Krishna. I have had the best time.”
She replied “Same here Arjuna.”
“So, when are we meeting again?”
She smiled and asked me back “Are you leaving something here Arjuna? Because things once left cannot be returned.”
I checked my pockets and said “No, I did not leave anything.”
She replied “If you want to talk to me you can come to the building which is adjacent to your sister’s college. I’ll be busy with my clients but you are something special so I can always take time for you.”
Saying this she left the place. I felt that I lost something but I wasn’t able to identify what it is.”
Professor Aravind broke my flow and asked “What did you leave Arjun?”
I continued “My thought of suicide professor. I felt that missing in me. For a second, I forgot that I was planning to die today and I was excited to see the tomorrow which I never wanted to see. Despite the noise in the street, I could feel myself breathing. My life was the same, my problems were the same and my reasons to die were the same but I wasn’t the same professor. Krishna had promised me that she wouldn’t try to convince me with words and she didn’t.”
Aravind interjected “How did you feel Arjun?”
“Imagine a boy waiting for his girlfriend. Imagine him waiting to tell her how much he loved her. But when she comes near him the only thing revolving in his head is ‘I don’t love her’. He remembers what he wanted to say but all of a sudden, the feeling which he had for her is gone. That’s the same feeling even I had. I was angry with myself. I didn’t feel like dying and I was not liking that feeling because I was clueless about why I was feeling like that.
As I started walking, I could recollect the question which Krishna asked me the night before “You don’t like many things in your life. But what do you like Arjuna?” I sat down and thought for some time but couldn’t come up with an answer. I didn’t want to die with a question. I badly wanted to find the answer for that question before I die. Today I have the answer for that question, but I don’t want to die.”
“What happened after that Arjun?”
“I walked back to my home. It was filled with lights, not because I was back home because, it was Diwali, the celebration of the victory of light over darkness. My parents were really happy to see me. I went to my study room and sat. That was the same place where I decided to die. I was looking at the portrait in which Arjuna was sitting alone and hopeless in the battlefield. As my sister came and cleaned the portrait, my perception changed. I saw Krishna besides Arjuna in that portrait. Then my sister said “Such a beautiful portrait. Krishna showing a direction to Arjuna when he sat hopeless during the battle.” It reminded me of her. My Krishna. ”
I grabbed a glass of water and continued “She didn’t fight a battle for me. Instead, she made me realize that there is a different battle which I should fight in my life. Kurukshetra was fought for 18 days and Arjuna’s clan won a kingdom. My battle lasted for a night. It gave a great student to you, a great son to my father and a life which I am living to my fullest. The time of the battle decreased and the value of the victory increased. No doubt, Krishna has had a huge upgrade Sir. So, here I am from a boy who didn’t find excitement in anything to a boy whose excitement does not die how much ever he writes. “
Resting his soft eyes on my face, Aravind sir nodded “This is indeed a story above all your others Arjun. But you lost the challenge because I’m still quite not fully conscious” He pointed to the empty bottle of Aberlour. “You tried your best bu-”
“The story is not over yet, professor” I cut him short, “Expect the unexpected from now”
“I was excited to go and meet Krishna the next day. I went to my sister’s college besides which Krishna’s office resided. But, to my surprise, I saw a temple. It took me a while to understand what she meant when she told that she was a consultant. Every word she spoke had a meaning inside. It just took a while for me to understand it. While I was coming back from the temple, I saw one of the kidnappers dressed in a formal attire. He was hiding his face when he noticed me. I went running to him and asked “I know that you are the kidnapper. Tell me the details of the girl you kidnapped that day. If you don’t, I will complain to the police.”
He replied “Arjun, I am not a kidnapper. I am a theatre artist. The girl who was with you, planned this whole kidnapping and asked our group to act like the kidnappers. We went by her plan and stopped the car near the woods. After that, she said that she will take care.”
Professor Aravind burped in astonishment. Before he could bombard me with questions I demanded “Professor I see that you are a lot more focused than before and your words appear less slurry. I guess I have won the challenge.”
“Yes, yes…” he mumbled in amusement “Yes Arjun, you have won the challenge. But how did she know that you planned to die that night.”
I shrugged “She might have seen my post on the internet before I deleted it. But I didn’t know her. One thing which is clear is that she did this for me. That was the last I saw her. “
I stood up to leave and he asked “Do you love her Arjun?”
I replied “My mother is the first person to uncover my shell whenever I hide something from her. But even she could not understand that I was dying every day. But Krishna knew it professor. I don’t want to diminish the value of our relationship with this label ‘Love’”. With that, I left his place.
As I wake up next day, I saw Aravind sir’s message. He wanted to meet me at the coffee shop. I went to the shop and sat on the table which he reserved. I spotted a harmonica on a table and called out for the woman about to leave the shop. As she turned around, to my surprise, stood Krishna. She was equally shocked to see me so she hugged me tight and we sat down.
After listening to my flurry of questions, she began talking “Like you had a reason to die, even I had a reason to stop you from dying Arjuna. Even I have a story which not many people know. My name is not Krishna, it is my father who used to call me that when I was a child. He told me that even though I was mischievous and appeared casual, I cared for the people around me. I used to do whatever it takes to help someone. As time passed, I became more focused towards my career. I changed so much that I couldn’t even realize that my sister, whom I am very close to was depressed. I got so involved in my work that I didn’t find time to talk to her”
I saw her wince as she continued, “One busy afternoon, I checked my phone. It had over 50 missed calls from dad. When I called him up, he said “Your sister committed suicide.” When I heard that, my mind went blank. I rushed home.” She rubbed her eyes and continued “She had told me multiple times that she wanted to talk to me, but I was so preoccupied that I didn’t think about her. From that day on, I cannot think of anything else, except her. It’s true that we realize the value of a person only in their absence. After ten days my dad came to me and said “I always wanted to see you grow in your life. You have changed my perception of growth. From a person who had a concern even for a distant friend to a person who is so focused in her career that she didn’t know her sister was suffering from depression. Had I known this is what growth means, I would never have wanted you to grow Krishna. You were better off during your school.” From then he stopped calling me Krishna. I wanted to be that person who could add some value to a person’s life. After some days, I had seen your post on the internet. At the same time, I got a call from Malini asking for help to break her marriage. With the help of Malini I got your details and then I came up with this plan which would solve both of your problems. I wanted to create a difference in someone’s life. Your life” And she locked my eyes gently, “And I did not want to meet you after that day because I wouldn’t have been able to sleep had you still decided to kill yourself. So I vanished from your vicinity”
I was both amazed and humbled “But it’s overwhelming to know that you put so much effort for an unknown person.”
She replied “It’s really strange that people find it absurd to help an unknown person. We ask for help to an unknown person without shame, but why do we hesitate to help someone in need Arjuna? The level of satisfaction I have now, seeing you today is unmatched with anything in this world. You are only amazed because we are living in a materialistic world. We talk about Krishna and Karna from the past but why don’t we follow them?”
I sat there thinking. Krishna had a way to make me do that. “What is your actual name?”
“Nithya Krishnan”, she said.
I felt something familiar with the name so I asked “What is your father’s name?”
She replied “Aravind Krishnan. I always wanted to share this story with my dad. After all, he made me realize the beauty in my life.”
“I already have listened to the story, Krishna.” we heard a voice from the back. It was Aravind sir. She looked so happy when her father called her ‘Krishna’. She was surprised to know that I was his student. Aravind sir said ‘I might have lost the challenge yesterday. But after I realized that it was my daughter, who changed your life, it made my day Arjun.”
The waiter brought the bill. I told Krishna that I was headed for the washroom. I scribbled a note on a tissue and tossed it to Krishna “This coffee shop owner is even more dangerous than the Dhaba owner if we don’t pay the bill. RUN.” She smiled and we darted outside the shop. We both ran together and we didn’t stop….
Krishnarjuna off to their next adventure….