I saw Vishal sitting on my door step when I returned from work. He was heavily drunk and looked a mess. The stench of alcohol and sweat almost made me gag.
I did not need any explanation to understand what had happened . It had to be Nisha once again.!!
“Vishal….get up” I tried lifting him up.He opened his eyes and gave me a sheepish grin.
“Oye..Kiran..my friend..my only friend….” He blabbered.
“Look what has happened to me Kiran. Look…..” he continued.
“I don’t want to live any more…It’s all over..My life is doomed..I am doomed..I want to die friend…”
It did not shock me or anything. After all , how many times have I witnessed these dramatic give ups!!
“We will talk about it Vishal.Get inside” I tried shoving him in, which in itself was a mighty task considering my petite size aginst his heavy build.
“Nothing to talk about Kiran..she won’t listen …she left me…she left me Kiran…I want to die”
“Hah..yet again??..” My sarcasm was lost and Vishal burst in to another episode of tears. “I came to tell Good bye, Kiran. There is only one person who understands me..that’s you..My Nisha left me…I have no reason to live…..”
I knew very well that Vishal was capable of doing what he was talking about. He had tried to end his life at least two times before. Once he had ate some pills and in an after thought informed his shocked mother and she had rushed him to the hospital. The second time, he had slit his wrist and it was me who had seen him lying in a pool of blood, when I woke up to his screams one night.
And always Nisha was the reason!
I managed to calm Vishal temporarily and he was sleeping on my couch, still muttering something incomprehensible in his sleep.I did not know what to do and that was when Priya, my fiancee called me up.She as usual was not very happy about Vishal being there at my place.
“Come on Kiran. You don’t have to put up with this any more.He puts up all these tantrums and wrecks you emotionally. And then one fine day he returns to that bitch, not heeding your or anyone’s warning , as if nothing has happened. You don’t have to go through this mess again”
But I had to. It was not like I had no choice. It was not that I had a list with me,the list of the things he had done for me, that made me indebted, binding my conscience not allowing me to back out. I did it because he was my friend.
Vishal was my friend , my best friend.period.That was the reason, the only and most valid reason.
All those years we spend together , all those cherished moments of laughter, fights, sharing,mocking..It was more than enough to hold me together when he needed me.Yes, there were moments when I just wanted him to shut up and leave me alone. Like today ,when I am caught in the middle of an important project release work and have hardly gotten any sleep in one whole week. How I would love to curl up on my bed, thinking of nothing and sleeping heartily ,instead of babysitting a drunken friend.
But I very well knew what would happen if I too shut my doors against him. He has more than once displayed what he was capable of doing and I would never want the suicide of my best friend haunt me my whole life.
After assuring Priya that everything was under control , I proceeded to heat up some left overs in the fridge and ate in silence.
Vishal was still curled up on the couch when I got up next morning. I had not slept the whole night, I kept waking up to check on him, scared that he would do something silly. I then called up my very bewildered boss and informed him that I would be taking the day off, I could almost see him shaking his head in fury.
I insisted that I was too sick to work and re assured that everything was on track for the release.
“Vishal…” I shook him up. He was reluctant to open his eyes and turned over. I looked at my best friend and sighed in despair, what a mess of person he has become in last few years.
Vishal was one of the most jovial characters in college.He was popular and friendly. But then at times he was quite moody.One moment he would be laughing his guts out and the other would see him brooding in the corner of the room.
I was his room mate for four years and was well accustomed to his mood swings. When he was his usual self, he was the best company that one could ever have. With out him my college days would have been empty, he was more than a friend to me. I think I had confided more in him than I have done in my own sister .He ,perhaps, was the only person who knew every inch of me, who could understand my every nod, my every gesture.But ,on the other hand, I could never understand him. He was deep and mysterious in his own way.
Nisha was our junior and it was love at first sight for Vishal. Campus crushes were very common and often time passes for us boys at the hostel. But Vishal exhibited a kind of obsession. He would be provoked if somebody mocked about his preoccupation with Nisha. Nisha had rejected him hands down, and I did not blame her for that, who would not get freaked out with a love letter written with blood. Her indifference had made him more moody .We , friends ,had constantly tried to cheer him up ,without much success. Vishal never gave up and literally stalked that girl .I once tried to criticize him for his immaturity and got shouted at. We friends, then left him alone in his mission and avoided that touchy subject.
But then it came as a surprise when one fine day Vishal announced that Nisha has finally realized her love for him. He was ecstatic and I had not seen him that happy ever before.They dated for a a month or two and then broke up. The break up transformed Vishal in to a worse version of his moodier self and he took out to drinking.
Unable to see him in such a pathetic state ,I swallowed my pride and went to talk to Nisha. Well that girl had a nerve. She refused even acknowledging the affair with Vishal and accused that it was all in his mind. “I just agreed to be friends, he was bugging me a lot!! And then he tries to tell me how to live my life…That guy brings a lot of negative energy with him.I don’t have to put up with him” She told me shamelessly.
I knew she was lying.She very well knew his feelings for her and he would have never agreed to be just friends. “She does not deserve you Buddy” we friends told him repeatedly and ofcourse it did not have any effect on him.
But then, after a few weeks of despair, they were back again.And from there their relation took an on off mode. Nisha would all of a sudden decide enough was enough and Vishal would crawl back to hostel room and brood for days. We , friends had once stopped Nisha and asked her to leave him alone, she glared at us and from then kept her distance when she spotted any one of us.
Days passed ,we had graduated and I had started my new job. Vishal was preparing for MBA entrance exams. One day, he stormed in to my home, all tears and informed me that Nisha was getting married, to some another guy of course. I did not find this surprising, a double faced snake she was. She had used Vishal and dumped him when she had pleased and this fool was so eager to be at her disposal. She had done it in the past and all of us expected this to eventually happen, except for this foolish friend of mine.
Vishal said he was too distressed and wanted to go home.So he dropped off of the coaching classes and went home.He did not call me and did not answer my calls for days.One day I got a call from his mother , her voice was trembling when she told me that he attempted to swallow a handful of pills and was hospitalized. She got my number from him and wanted to know if I knew the reason behind his depression.
“There was a girl….” I told her and reassured her that everything will be alright eventually.”He will get over it Aunty” I told her with confidence.
But he did not get over it or move on. Vishal ,apparently, was headed for a decline.He became the living ghost of that jovial guy who once resided in his body.
Our other friends started avoiding him as he had become a depressing sight. He moved into my apartment and spent all his time, doing nothing.I heard from mutual friends that Nisha was married. I felt hatred bubbling against the girl who was behind all the miseries of my friend.
Months passed.One day, when I returned home I saw Vishal humming a song.He was in high spirits , just like his old self, all smiles and all.
“Guess what” he asked when he spotted me, barely waiting me to get inside the room.
“What…??” He was smiling from ear to ear.
“Don’t tell me the bitch is back”
And it turned out to be just true. Vishal had got a call from Nisha,she never was able to love her husband and was missing Vishal it seemed.How could she just leave and come back without any remorse?Bitch!! I was really pissed off. I mean I could do anything to see Vishal happy,but I never had a good feeling about this relationship of his.
“So..she is getting divorced?” I was flabbergasted. That girl sure was a mess.
“Yes eventually…she is going to talk to him”
And then their love life budded again , and going by VishaI’s words it was stronger than ever. He would spend hours on phone and would go to meet her when her husband was away. I couldn’t digest it. I mean, she was a married woman and this technically was cheating.I am very old fashioned when it comes to relationships.
I warned him that she was capable of cheating and could do the same to him.Why was he not learning from all his experiences?
And then we had a fight and he moved out.He couldn’t take a single insult on Nisha, she was his world, his addiction ,his obsession.
He never called for months, but eventually we patched up.
Mean while , I was busy with my life.I changed jobs and got engaged.I was happy for myself. I did meet Vishal intermittently.He had dropped his MBA ambition and had joined an IT firm.
“We need to get married soon..as soon as she gets the divorce.My parents won’t support me, since it’s her remarriage.I don’t want to be caught up by surprise” He told me.
“So when is she talking to her husband?It’s already been 4-5 months” I asked him.
He shrugged and confessed that she is still confused and he is trying to convince her.
“Vishal..have you not got any brains at all??Just forget it…this girl is going to wreck your life” I warned him and from his look I knew that he did not like my comments.
I sometimes used to call my other friends and discuss Vishal.
“He is hopeless yaar”they used to tell me.
Yeah…hopeless he was.
And then again she left one day, suddenly realizing that she couldn’t cheat her husband any more.
That was when he slit his wrist.That day, he had come home drunken, just like today. He said that he could not make her stay and cried for a while. In the middle of the night I heard a soft scream and went to the bathroom to find him in a pool of blood.I still can’t forget that night.I was drenched in his blood while I rushed him to the hospital and how I had panicked.My hatred for that girl grew.
That day I wanted to call Nisha and shout at her, but Vishal did not give me her number.He had password protected his phone, so I couldn’t get it from him. I so wanted to give her my piece of mind.
After this incident,for days I did not hear anything about Nisha from Vishal.I was relieved that she had finally decided to mind her own life.But then she returned.Yet again. “She realized how important she is for me when she heard of the suicide attempt…’No one else would have done that for me Vishal’ she told me…”
That was the limit. How dare she glorify such a grave mistake of his? I told him that he was to never again speak anything about that wretched bitch to me , if he still wanted to be my friend.
He looked taken aback, but did not protest.
And then after days, I was seeing him today.
“Kiran…..” I woke up from my thoughts and turned back to find Vishal standing behind me. “I am sorry friend.I have caused you unnecessary troubles.I should leave now”
He looked so weak and worn out. I was scared to let him go, alone.I forced him to stay and offered to call his parents.But he refused to go home.”I can not give them more pain.They have already suffered a lot because of me.I am a burden, a burden to all” I felt a sudden rush of affection to this guy, who once was the world to me.
“Oh God….!!Kiran grow up” Priya was literally shouting at me. “How long do you expect to keep a watch on him? What about your work, what about me?” She wailed. I had called her to cancel our dinner date.I wanted to stay with Vishal.
“Listen” she continued.”Be practical.You have to look for a permanent solution.A guy with such an extend of suicidal tendency need to consult a psychiatrist” .I knew she was right , but I did not know if Vishal will comply.
“For God’s sake.He is sick.You have to persuade him”
So I persuaded him and took him to a psychiatrist. Priya was right. That was the only practical solution.
After a counselling that lasted around 2-3 hours, the doctor asked me to join them in his consultation room. “I would recommend that Vishal remain here for a few days” He told me calmly. I looked at Vishal who gave me a weak smile. I nodded. A nurse was summoned to lead Vishal to one of the rooms.”But won’t medicines help?” I asked the doctor, once Vishal was out of earshot.He smiled. “Vishal is fine.medicines will help.But medicines alone might not help. He is now addicted to substance abuse too. So I would recommend a rehab program together with some meditation.You friend was showing minor signs of psychosis.He has suicidal tendencies you say?” He asked me and I nodded. “How long will he have to stay?”
“Well, that depends on how fast he reacts to the treatment.But it should not take much time” He smiled again.”You can visit any time and I would expect you to.You don’t want to leave him alone.Also, it would be better to have his family visit”
I muttered my thanks and proceeded to meet Vishal in his room.
“It is okay dear.he will soon be fine” Priya was telling me.I was barely hearing her talk. I did not expect Vishal to be in the hospital for this long. I did not know that his condition was that bad. I did not know that he had used drugs.There was so many things that I did not know.I felt guilty.I felt like shit.A very good friend I was!!
I had called Vishal’s parents and explained his condition to them. His mother had sobbed and father sounded composed.”Thanks Kiran” He had told me solemnly. They had come last week and left, since no one was allowed to stay with Vishal at the hospital.I had promised them to take care of him. I was still in my own thoughts when I spotted her. Nisha…
She was walking out of a restaurant with a handsome guy. That fool must be her husband. I thought.
“That’s her” I told Priya. “Who…?” She asked, annoyed to have been interrupted.
“Where…?” She was straining to spot Nisha when I stood up.”Arrey,where are you going?”
“I need to talk to her.I need to thank her for wrecking my friend’s life” I started to walk towards her. Priya was soon behind me telling me to not be stupid and not cause unwanted scenes. Before I knew I was behind Nisha and she turned to face me when I called her name.
She looked at me ,confused.After a minute, I saw signs of recognition in her eyes.”Kiran….?” She smiled at me.
“Yeah..Vishal’s friend..!!” I replied unsmiling.
Her smile vanished .Priya tried one last time to pull me back without success.
“What do you want?” Nisha asked me.
“I wanted to thank you.For putting my friend in the mental hospital…Thanks..thanks a lot!!”
She looked shock.”What happened to Vishal?What did I do…?”
“Hah..you bitch…you ask me what you did”
The man with her stepped forward and grabbed my collar.”Mind your language man” He roared.
“So you must be her husband,Do you know what she has been doing behind your back?She was having a nice juicy affair with my friend and she dumped him when she got bored and guess what, he is now at the hospital for having suicidal thoughts..all because of this wife of yours”
The man looked infuriated and raised his hand to hit me. Nisha came forward and told him to hold off.
“See Kiran. There has been some misunderstanding.I have not seen Vishal for the last 6 years.”
“Trust me..”she continued.” I just came to India last week. I was in UK..believe me.”
I was confused. “When did yo go to UK.?” May be she had gone a few months back and is now playing safe before her husband.
“I was there since my marriage.That’s where Aryan works.Last time I came to India was one and half years ago.That too for a week for my sister’s wedding.I was carrying and was not able to travel last whole year.We came for our son’s Annaprashan ceremony” she offered, as I kept staring.
I looked at her husband who was still eyeing me with loathing.
“But Vishal…he said”
“Who the hell is this Vishal?” the guy asked Nisha.
“Aryan..it’s that psycho guy I have told you before, the one from my college” She turned to me “Kiran..I know you all hated me in college.You never had patience to hear my side of story. We never were in any relationship, me and Vishal. Yes he proposed and I refused.I hated his weird nature.I was scared of his antics. He had threatened to kill himself if I did not agree to be his friend.He was such a control freak.He made my life hell.That was why my parents decided to marry me off when I was still in college.The last time I saw him was a week before my marriage when he stormed into my house and told me that he would die in front of me if I did not call off the wedding. But I had more than enough by then and told him to do what ever he pleased.My brother had to literally push him off the compound.”
Priya was looking at me with her mouth open.She asked
“You have not seen him or talked to him hence?”
“No…”Nisha replied.”he used to sent me emails..I got pissed off and deleted my account. Fearing him , I keep all my social network profiles private.But it has been 6 years, I thought he must have moved on.”
I still did not want to believe her. But as she explained further, everything made sense. No one had seen Vishal’s reconciliation with Nisha. I had only heard his story. I had seen him talk in phone, but i don’t know for sure if someone was actually talking from the other end. I apologized to Nisha and Aryan and bid them good bye. Nisha hesitantly asked if there was something she can do, but I re assured her that nothing was necessary. If what she told was true, it was better off for her to not meet him at all.
“What a bloody liar…” Priya exclaimed as they went out of sight.”So much for standing up to him.To think it was that decent girl whom you had abused all these years…” Even I was feeling guilty for my prejudice against Nisha. But I could not decide if Vishal was lying or if it was a part of his hallucination.
“May be I should talk to his doctor one more time.” I told Priya.
Vishal was smiling at me when I entered the room with Priya. He ran to me and gave me a hug.”You won’t believe me…Nisha just left. She was here to tell me that she talked to that idiot, her husband….I know what you are thinking..the bitch is back, right??…haha..Yeah..she is..with a bang and this time to stay for ever.Everything is going to be perfect from now.”
I could feel Priya’s nails digging on to my arms and I stood there in a daze.