A loud voice of alarm bell waked me up. I saw the wall clock, it was 3 AM. I heard my wife's voice, ‘Wake up! Or you will be late.' She was in the kitchen. I asked her, ‘Sonia! When did you wake up? And what are you doing in the kitchen at midnight?' She came to the bedroom and said with smile, ‘Just about 15 minutes back. You had to leave early morning so I thought I should prepare some breakfast for you. Now hurry up get ready'. I smiled back to her, and rushed to washroom. I got ready and I came out and by the time my breakfast was ready at dining table. Before I finished the breakfast, I heard the sound of horn, it was of the the cab which had come to pick me up. I finished the breakfast, picked up my small bag and got ready to go; as usual she brought my wallet, wristwatch and my mobile. I said bye and left for Airport.

It was still dawn when I stepped out of the cab and walked towards the entry gate of the Delhi airport. The early morning February air was pleasantly cold.

I was travelling to Bengaluru to attend a college friend's wedding. It had been four years since we graduated from the same college. This wedding was also going to be a reunion of our batch-mates. But what I didn't know was that the reunion would begin much ahead of time; right in the queue in front of the airline counter.

I was almost sure it was her. Same height! Same long hair! Same complexion! Curiosity had my eyes glued to her. And then about 60-odd seconds later, when she turned, she proved me right. My ex-girlfriend stood two places ahead of me in that queue. We had never met after the college farewell. A quick smile flashed on my face and I was about to raise my hand to say my hello to her. But suddenly I realize she didn't notice me or maybe she avoided. I was little surprised with this, ‘How can she forget me?' Well! I collected my boarding pass and started looking for her, but she was not there.

I reached to waiting lounge and took a coffee and got seated because it was still 40 minutes left for boarding. Someone hit on my shoulders and said, ‘Hey writer!', My classmates used to call me during college days because of my habbit of writing stories. I turned back it was Rajeev, I said, ‘Hi Rajeev! It is nice to see you after so long.' He replied, ‘same here friend. It would be a great fun together with college buddies. Come! See Mahima is also here'. I saw Mahima (my Ex-Girlfriend) was sitting on the second last row and she waved hand to us. We reached near her. Rajeev and Mahima hugged each other. I said, ‘Hi Mahima! I think you forget me, I am Nihal.' Mahima replied with an artificial smile, ‘Hey Nihal! Sorry, I didn't recognize. But you changed a lot, from a funky college boy to a cool gentleman.' ‘Thanks! But you did not change much, same simple and elegant. I got you immediately when I saw you on counter.' I said with little excitement. ‘Yes! I am still same', she replied with very serious voice and started reading the book she was carrying.

Our flight announced so we rushed to the boarding gate. I was first of all three to board and I took my seat it was 22b and then came Rajeev he took next seat 22c and requested the lady sitting on that seat to change with his window seat, she happily changed. Window seat 22a was still vacant. I was praying to get Mahima on that seat. Mahima came looking for her seat and fortunately it was her seat. I was happy, but she was not. She kept looking outside the window and pretending she didn't know us. Flight took off and she got busy in her book again. I was still trying to get a chance to start a conversation with her, but didn't know how to start. I restored all my courage and said, "Well you also stay in Delhi?" "Yes!" a very straight answer and period. I also kept quiet for some time.

I was getting impatient, I had a lot of questions in my mind and I wanted answers from her. I straight away asked first question to her, “Mahima! I tried many times to call you and contact you, but you never entertained. Even I visited many times to your home, but I always get an answer that you are not there or you don't want to meet me. Why? Why did you not wanted to meet me, why you finished everything between us?” Mahima looked at me and said calmly, “Finished what? I think you are still in some illusions Mr. Nihal. It was never like the way you were thinking. You needed a girlfriend to impress your friends and I needed a person who could take care of my requirements. It was nothing more than a give and take relationship. I am not that kind of girl who gets trapped in this love and family drama. I had some other dreams and now I have all my dreams come true. I am at least 10 times more successful than you I am completely on my own. Do you think I could have done this if I would have married you because of that so-called love? That was college time enjoyment just forget it.” Every word of her was surprising and unbelievable for me. I loved her so much and she never even bothered about that. I looked at Rajeev, he was listening all the conversation so far. He was little confused and shook his head with disbelief. Mahima again started reading her book.
There was a mix feeling of anger and disgust inside me and I decided to keep a distance from her.

Flight landed in Bengaluru and we came out of airport. Madhav (The man getting married) had sent a vehicle to pick up us. Vehicle was standing just outside the airport with our name board. I took the front seat, Rajeev and Mahima took back seat. In about 40 minutes we reached to our destination. Madhav's father welcomed us and showed us the rooms where we had to stay. Some more of our old batch mates were already reached there. We met everyone and it was a long time when we all were meeting so everyone had stories to tell to each other and we started talking. I saw Mahima wasn't look comfortable she moved towards the lawn, took out her mobile and called someone. I ignored and moved to my room to get freshen up. In another ten minutes Madhav came to meet me. He told me that he was at Railway Station to pick up some relative so he could not come to pick us and apologize for that. We hugged each other, and he asked if I need something, but everything was available so I asked him to carry on with relatives and to meet once get free.

I came out of room and moved towards other side to look for Rajeev and others, but I got distracted by Mahima, she was still busy with mobile and was looking sad. I pretended to cross the lawn to go to the other side and tried to get as close as possible to Mahima and ensure she should not see me. I heard her saying, “Yes I know and I saw him. You know I avoid these functions and all. I wasn't sure that I would be joining so I could not tell you earlier, but since Madhav forced me a lot so I had to come.” After a pause she started again, “Well how is life going its long time we spoke?” I moved ahead and could not hear further as I did not want her to feel my presence.

I was confused, “Is she talking about me? If yes then why is she avoiding me? Who she was talking to?” Again a lot of questions, but I could not ask her so I decided to discuss with Rajeev on this. While thinking about all that, I was still walking and collided with Sunaina, she was one of our classmates and very good friend of Mahima. She said, “Hello! You look like lost somewhere, what happened?” I got surprised, but managed to smile and said, “Nothing! I was just thinking about something so could not see you. Sorry!” She laughed and said, “it's Ok buddy, you need not to be sorry.” She looked around and asked, “Where is Mahima? I saw you both came along. She must be with you.” I kept a fake smile on face and said, “Yes! We came along, but for your information we are not together now.” She replied, “Yes! I know you both are not together, you were separated and you are married to...” she was about to say something, but stopped. I looked at her with doubt, “Do you know whom I am married to?” She avoided my question and said, “I think someone is calling me, Ok! Catch you later.” She left me in more confusion.

I was not able to understand whatever was happening around. I reached to the wedding hall people were decorating the hall for marriage function. I took one seat and sat down thinking. I felt someone besides me, I looked up, it was Rajeev. He said, “Still thinking about her? Forget her my friend, she was not of your type and you heard her words. She was never interested in you.” I stood up and said, “No Rajeev, there is something which I am not able to see, but can feel. It is not like it seems to be. Let me tell you something which looks suspicious.” Then I told him what I heard from Mahima and Sunaina just now. Rajeev became serious and said, “I do not say that you are totally wrong, but it may be a coincidence and you have connected their words in different way altogether.” I was not convinced with Rajeev, but kept silent.

Rajeev also took a chair; we sat down looking at the decoration and talking about our life I saw Mahima she entered in the hall and tried looking for someone; she saw us and moved to the other side. I kept my eyes on her, and saw that she met Sunaina. They hugged each other, and then Sunaina told her something in her ear. Now Mahima looked stressed and went back to her room. I didn't notice, but Rajeev also saw everything and said, “Nihal! We should end the suspense and ask Sunaina about this. She may only be the right person.” We decided to find out the right time when we could ask her. People from both Bride and Groom side were ready. Barat has to start from Madhav's house and to reach to the Wedding Hal in the same campus. Late evening when marriage function was almost finished and we gathered for dinner.

I saw Mahima was missing and Sunaina was there in the dining area. I rushed to her, and asked, “Sunaina! Please excuse me, but I need to talk to you. It is urgent.” Sunaina looked around and said, “Ok!” I asked her to come to the corner side. Rajeev saw both of us and followed. I said, “Sunaina! Please promise me you will answer my questions without hiding anything. I am stressed about whatever happening and somehow I feel you know something about this.” Sunaina looked at me with surprise and said, “Nihal! I am sorry, but I am not able to understand what you are trying to say. What is happening and where? I really don't know.” I said, “See! You know I loved Mahima so much, but Mahima says she never loved me, and she was with me for her financial interest. Initially I also believed what she said, but after that, I felt she was hiding something and when I met you it looked like you also know something about it.” Sunaina looked afraid and she turned around and keeping her face on the other side she said, “I really don't know what you are talking about. It is between you and Mahima then why don't you ask her? I don't know anything in this matter.” Now Rajeev intervened, “See Sunaina! I should not interrupt in between, but we all are old friends and we know each other more than anybody else. I would request if you know anything please let us know. All the complications may get sorted out with that.” I said, “Sunaina! Turn around, look into my eyes and say that you don't know anything. I promise you, I will not ask again.” This trick worked and Sunaina turned around with tears in her eyes. She said, “I promised Mahima that I won't tell anybody about this because Mahima did not want this to be revealed to anyone.” After a small silence Sunaina again started telling,

“Mahima was an orphanage child and she was taken care of by her step parents. She was too much obliged to them because they took care of her more than their own child. They always try to fulfill her dreams. In return she wanted to become an engineer and to bring all kinds of happiness to them. She studied well and completed her engineering with very good marks and got a job in a very good company. After three years of job, last year due to some problems she lost her job and started her own company, which also is not doing well. Since she has started her job she devoted all her earnings to her step parents.”

I was confused so I interrupted, “I understand all this, but she could have told me and this could have been done while we remained together. I still do not understand the reason of her decision of leaving me.” Sunaina looked at me and said with a serious voice, “This was not the actual reason for leaving you. Her step parents had their own daughter as well and her name is Tanisha. Mahima and Tanisha loved each other a lot. Many times Tanisha happily handover her things to Mahima when parents feel it is important for her. Same way Mahima also did many times even she sacrificed her love as well. Mahima loved you more than anything else, but she gave priority to her family. During our last semester Mahima came to know that Tanisha was in love with you so before anyone could know anything she silently moved out from your life and gave space to Tanisha so that she could have you in her life.”

I was totally confused, “What rubbish? Who is this Tanisha? I never met any girl named Tanisha. I am married to Sonia and it was an arranged marriage.” Sunaina looked at me with disbelief, I added, “I was not able to come out of the shock after Mahima left me. My father arranged a job in the USA and when I came back after two years I was a bit comfortable so my family arranged my marriage with a girl from our family friends.” After a short while again I said, “I need to discuss with Mahima, There is some confusion.” Saying this, we turned back and saw Mahima standing just few steps away from us. Her face was full of tears and sadness.

She started crying, “No! It cannot be true; I sacrificed my whole life just for this.”

I came near her, and tried to make her comfortable, “Calm down Mahima! We need to check what the confusion is? Who told you that Tanisha love me? Where is Tanisha now and how could it possible that you are unaware of everything for last so many years? Tell me what exactly happened.”

Mahima started telling, “Just before our last semester paper Tanisha told me that she loved someone and showed me the picture. That picture was of yours. I was surprised, but did not tell her anything about us. I was not sure what to do so I told everything to Sunaina and took her advice. She wanted me to discuss with you directly and to understand your view. I knew you would have refused to Tanisha as I was sure you love me. But my step parents and my step sister had obliged me a lot on various occasions so I decided to quit for happiness of my sister. I asked Sunaina to not to tell anybody. Until our farewell I managed to behave in such a manner as if nothing has happened and just after Farewell I went to Mumbai for job. After sometimes, Tanisha told me that she is getting married to her love. Just to avoid any odd circumstances I tried to avoid marriage and any meeting with her. We had few talks over telephone so I was in impression that everything was going well. Last year after I left job in Mumbai I shifted to Delhi. I am living with my parents, but always try to avoid being at home whenever Tanisha is planning to visit. She always calls before visiting so it was never a problem.”

I asked her to call Tanisha and to ask about her husband. Mahima told me that Tanisha was calling her in every half an hour to check what is happening and Tanisha told her that her husband means I am here in Bangalore for Madhav’s wedding. Today only she told Mahima that her husband is Mahima’s classmate and Mahima was little surprised why she never told before.

I was completely sure that Sonia doesn't know anything because I know her for a very long time so now we have only one person who could break this suspense and that was Tanisha. I asked Mahima to call Tanisha and to tell her that she asked me about Tanisha and I told her that I didn't know her. She called Tanisha and said same as I asked her to say. Tanisha cut the phone saying that her husband was lying and she did not want to talk in this regard.

Mahima immediately called her mother and told her everything. After getting her mother's reply she screamed, “What?” She sat down on a chair and kept listening her mother. In about 10 minutes her face and body were full of sweat and she was shivering. In next moment her phone dropped from her hand and she fall down on floor. We brought her to the room and as soon as she got her conscious back after about an hour she started crying badly and kept saying “I am finished. I don't want to live anymore.” I sat down on her side and said, “Calm down Mahima! Tell us what happened? What your mother told you?” She started crying even more and said, “Forgive me Nihal, I spoiled your life also with me. I parted away your love from you, but believe me whatever I have done was just to make my family happy because they had given me a lot of things which I could not even imagine. But I didn't know my own sister will spoil my life just for a silly revenge.”

Then she told us the entire story which her mother revealed to her. Since childhood Tanisha and Mahima were brought up without any discrimination. Tanisha felt that her rights were being shifted to an outsider, Mahima. Their father loved Mahima more than Tanisha because she was good at every aspects like intelligence, humanity, behavior, etc. But Mother was slightly biased towards Tanisha. Tanisha started taking the advantage and convinced her for favor in all her activities. Tanisha came to know that Mahima and I love each other, she made a plan to separate us just to make Mahima feel bad and lonely. She told her that she loved me by showing one of my photos and pretended as she doesn't know about us. Mahima was already too obliged for whatever Tanisha and her parents had so far done for her so keeping all that in mind she didn't tell her anything and Tanisha succeeded in her plan. Mahima left me and went to Mumbai. Whenever I visited Mahima's home Mahima’s younger sister (Tanisha) and her mother told me that Mahima is not in the house or she doesn't want to talk to me. After sometime I also accepted that Mahima was no more interested in our relation and moved on to the USA. Meanwhile Tanisha told Mahima that she is getting married and invited her, but as she knew Mahima will not come she got married with her lover. It didn't end here, but Tanisha kept tracking all the activities of Mahima. With the help of her husband, she started creating problems in Mahima's job as well so as she should not be succeeded in life and as a result finally Mahima lost the job and returned to Delhi to start her own business. Tanisha's mother helped her maintain the distance so that Mahima should not know who Tanisha's husband is? Tanisha kept creating disturbance through various means. Tanisha was tracking my movement as well so she knew when I was visiting Bangluru for this wedding and unfortunately she could not be aware that Mahima also visiting this wedding because of the last moment plan. But Tanisha was kept tracking about the happenings here by calling Mahima every half an hour and for safety purpose she told Mahima that she came to know that I am her classmate. So in this way Tanisha her step sister made her love apart, spoiled her career and Mahima was feeling disappointed and helpless.

After knowing all this, I was also feeling bad. I asked her to forget everything and to start life once again. I assured her to get her a good job through my sources because I knew she is intelligent and could be able to take up any work effectively. Rajeev also assured the best help from his side. At last I said, “ I know we cannot go back to history to sort out our personal losses, but remember we were friends before we became lover, we still are friends and will remain be so don't worry.” We all hugged each other, and suddenly Rajeev said, “Friends we forget that marriage is still going on and we should be there.” We all said, “Yes.”

After returning from Bangaluru, Mahima shifted to her new rented house and started with a new job. I introduced her to my wife Sonia, they are also very good friend now.

Love everyone, but don't be blind, open up with your friends.

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