‘My quirky friend had outgrown our childish dreams. I did too’



LET’S MAKE a word document.”
“For what?” I asked incredulously “
For the places to visit when we turn 30.”
“What if we’re married by then?”
“Big deal. We’ll just plonk our partners into the Atlantic.”

Illustration: Samia Singh

Arjun was a Delhi boy. After meeting on an online writing community, we argued vociferously about The Motorcycle Diaries. Two years and a million conversations later, I was going to meet Arjun, but not without trepidation. As I was thinking such thoughts, I recognised the tall lanky silhouette making its way towards me from across the IIT Delhi campus. Here was the quick-witted, sharptongued boy — at once stranger and friend.

Arjun suggested we sit down and drink some iced tea. The next visit involved chuskis. When he came to visit me in Kolkata, we visited every single art gallery I could think of and ended the day devouring manyphuchkas. An exchange programme took him to France for six months but that did not really deter our communications.

I learnt to write incredibly long e-mails and learn about Europe. His advice stood me in good stead when I moved to Edinburgh. “Always wear three layers of clothing when it’s cold.” Hearing about his travails made me experience a different country vicariously through him. Over the next three years, our different lives took us to various cities. We lived in London, France, Edinburgh, Atlanta, Boston… The word document kept getting bigger and bigger.

Dissecting politics and economics with Arjun on Skype became as normal to me as breathing. One day after a hea – ted argument and after both of us had ended two horrific relationships, Arjun said, “Rhea, I’m tired of playing this game. I’m tired of dating people I don’t love. I don’t care how bizarre this sounds. I think I want to be with you.”

I had been thinking on the same lines for some time. The only problem was our differing geographies — London and Boston were miles apart.

Out of the blue, in the middle of my masters’ thesis, I was called for an interview with a top notch consultancy firm in New York. I was thoroughly excited and called up Arjun, who surprisingly, did not sound the least bit excited. I put it down to him working long and excruciating hours at the laboratory and did not give it much thought.

“That’s great,” he said. “Be sure to spend the weekend in New York.” I booked my tickets accordingly and at night, I hugged myself to sleep in delight.

On the night before I left, I received an email from Arjun, “Sorry Rhea, I can’t come. I think it’s pretty useless to meet you for just a couple of days.”

In New York, nobody received me at the airport. To enliven my own spirits I walked all across town, soaking in the atmosphere and the wondrous city that is the Big Apple. Arjun and I had talked about this moment for three years and when the moment did arrive, why was he nowhere to be seen?

It was fall in London when I returned. The solitude seemed refreshing. My quirky friend had outgrown our childish dreams. This was also the time when the universe handed another serious blow. My mother’s tone of finality and my father’s quivering voice conveyed to me that my beloved grandfather had passed away.

Cynical and heartbroken, I packed my bags and boarded a plane back to Kolkata.

The next eight hours on the flight were the best hours of my year. I met an architect with the most beautiful green eyes. As our stories unfurled, I told him that he might turn the pages of a magazine one day to discover that he had been written about.

I took this as a sign from the universe.

Rhea Roy is 22. She is an aspiring author who lives in Kolkata.


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