Hope (6)

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five

Raj knew his best friend was in love with his wife. Aakash had never believed in love in his entire life, never valued it, always used women only for sex, never bothered to understand them or give them a chance and now, out of all the people, Aakash was in love with Sudha. Initially, Raj did not know what should have been his reaction? Should he have slapped Aakash or laughed? No one ever understood Aakash the way he did, so Raj found it easy to forgive him. Loving someone was not a sin. He knew his friend. He knew Aakash valued their friendship, respected it. He could see that Aakash was trying his best to stay away from Sudha. The very next day Aakash had left the country. He came back again but avoided meeting Raj whenever Raj was in town. Aakash’s parents were worried because Aakash refused to get married. It was Raj’s duty to make him understand and he tried. He could not force the decision on him, though. He was never good at it. He could never convince anyone. Well, with Sudha it was different. Convincing her was not difficult. His love for her was so strong, she knew it and the moment he had proposed marriage she had accepted. That was different. This was different. Finally he asked Sudha to convince him.
One day, Sudha informed him, Aakash had left town without informing anyone, before she could get the chance to talk to him.
After a few days Raj had no time to think about this. The war was flaring up. Raj put in his entire attention and efforts in fighting against the enemy. He loathed the bloodshed but at the same time he knew it was necessary to protect his country from these invaders. Terrorists or military of the enemy country, whoever it was, they had to be stopped. Attacks were being made from all the directions and even before Raj could realize, he was hit several bullets. He lost consciousness.

Then, he saw a figure. Blur in the beginning but later on it took shape of Sudha. He saw her sleeping in bed, covered by a bed-sheet. She looked beautiful. She was beautiful. He moved to open the curtains and allowed the sunlight to fill the room. She opened her eyes as the sun-rays fell on her beautiful face.
Good morning” he said.
Good Morning” she said raising her hands over her head, stretching and then all of a sudden she felt for the bed-sheet, which had slipped down almost to her waist. She covered herself up to the chin, suddenly realizing she was still wrapped only by a bed-sheet.

Amused, he raised an eyebrow. The room turned pink as smiling shyly she pulled a pillow over her face. He laughed aloud. He found it sweet that she was trying to cover herself up after having sex the previous night! He found the gesture very romantic. He stared at her now covered body and felt aroused, again. He loved her, a lot. He moved closer to her, almost as if attracted by some magnetic force. He sat on the bed next to her and lifted the pillow from over her face. She opened her eyes and looked deep into his. Her brown eyes, so very beautiful, made his heart ache for having to be away from her for all those days when he could not manage to stay home. He wanted to create memories so that he could replay them when he was away from home. He wanted to hold her in his arms forever. He wanted to feel her when she would not be around with him. He wanted to make love to her again. He held her hand and brought it close to his lips. She smiled. He left her hand all of a sudden and walked to the window. Perplexed, she stared at him. The moment he moved to close the curtains, she realized his intentions and smiled again. As he slid inside the bed-sheet next to her and his warm body touched hers, he felt blessed. But, something was not right. The smell, the noise … it was distracting. He opened his eyes. Conscious, he looked around and realized that he was in military hospital. He was told he had been unconscious for many days. No one, however, told him what he found out on his own after few minutes of consciousness. He could not move his legs. He had severely damaged his both legs and was crippled forever.

With the help of his friend, Raj managed to erase his name from hospital records. He wanted everyone to believe he never returned from the war. He wished he should never have. People refused to comply. He made them understand the motives behind his plan and they agreed. Raj knew that only a few officers were accessible to general public and he made it a point to convince them all. He was told that his father and then Aakash had come to the office enquiring about the suspense with regards to his death. He was glad he had succeeded in making them believe that he was indeed dead. However, life had something else in store for him.
Aware of Aakash’s feelings for Sudha he had waited for Aakash to take the initiative and get close to her but Aakash did nothing of that sort. Finally, he had to intervene. He could not see Sudha in the state that she was in. She deserved to be happy even if it meant being happy with someone else. Who, other than Aakash, would be able to make her happy? He thought.

He planned a meeting with Aakash with the help of his friend. Aakash reacted just as he had assumed. Though Aakash pretended to be the tough guy, Raj knew that he was exactly the opposite. Aakash had tried to call Sudha, of course, giving priority to her happiness over his. That is what he would have done had he been in Aakash’s shoes. Right now, however, he was a crippled man who wanted to convince his best friend into marrying the love of his life. Aakash had slapped him. So typical of Aakash, Raj thought. Raj requested but Aakash refused. Raj pleaded, Aakash got frustrated. He did not want to reveal it but he had to. He had to tell Aakash he knew how Aakash felt for Sudha. When he saw the look in Aakash’s eyes he knew he had touched the right chord. Aakash walked away but Raj was sure that he had heard what Raj had said –
I know you love her. You are the only person who can make her happy. Please, do this for her.

Part Seven