Everyday is a Rainbow Day

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Jhelum and Farhan chat for long hours, remembering of their past. Sweet past often give way to bitter present, and unforeseen future.

Chapter 9 (v.1) - Chapter IX: Midnight Conversations

Submitted: July 04, 2016

Reads: 149

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Submitted: July 04, 2016

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Chapter IX: Midnight Conversations

They were sitting in Farhan’s room. She was sitting on the bed and gorging on chocolate truffles. Farhan was sitting on the recliner watching her. He already had a few and was not interested in having more.

‘’These are yummy.’’ She said unwrapping one more ’’Too good’’.

‘’Hmm’’, he said, pointing to the chocolate marks on her cheeks, ‘’it is pretty evident”.

She tried to rub the marks with her hands, but in vain. The chocolate marks had already dried up.

He laughed out loud and said, ‘’do not rub them off. The chocolate marks are looking good on your dimpled cheeks.’’ Jhelum too started laughing.

“You have not changed a bit, Farhan.”

They both laughed for quite some time. It was not perhaps the best reason to laugh out loud, but no doubt, the best excuse for both to laugh to their heart’s content.

‘’Oh Farhan, you have not changed at all!” said Jhelum, trying hard to stop laughing.

‘’No, I have not. The one who changes is not Farhan’’ he was still laughing, then he said ‘’do you remember the last time when we chatted and laughed all night?’’

‘’yes, I do. ‘’ She said, finally stopping for a breath, ‘’that was three years back, at WW Consulting office.”

It was one of those crazy Friday nights when teams work late for product releases. Jhelum’s team had a go-live on Monday and everything had to be ready by the preceding Friday. So, it was like hell for them.  She and her team members were working very hard for the last few weeks. That evening they were mentally prepared to spend the night in office. Farhan and Chowhan used to work in 7 pm-2am shifts that time. So, they were also in office too. Farhan was busy with some high profile credit valuations. 

At one ó clock the go live finally happened.

Farhan could hear Jhelum’s team members (including Jhelum, of course) yelling at the top of their voices.

“They have done it finally!” said Chowhan, who was seated next to him.

“Oh is it?” Farhan said,” That’s the reason for the uproar.” sending out an important mail to his Chicago-based client. 

“They are celebrating the feat with pizzas and coke.”  Chowhan said looking at his the internal chat messenger. Jhelum had sent him a message.

“These people are just crazy; bringing the roof down over some silly product release!” Farhan was getting irritated.

 “Oh, come on man. Let them celebrate. They have worked really hard for the last two months.” Chowhan retorted.

“I see,” Farhan said, looking at him,’’ so, you are also part of the league?’’

‘’Yes sir”

“I see. So, where is Archie?”

“Hostel, where else?”

“Hmm… so, no Friday night out?”

“Nope buddy. Tomorrow she’s leaving for her hometown.”

“Oh okay. So, you are feeling sad that she’ll be away for a week?”

“Well…”Chowhan had barely nodded his head, when Jhelum entered with a huge Pizza Hut box, ’’no reason to be sad, Chowhan. I am here with your favorite Chicken Mexicano.”

“Oh Jhelum, I am so happy you are here. You are an angel.” He sprang up from his seat.

He was about to take the box from her hand, when she took it away and said, “On one condition, you will not call me Miss Chulbuli from now on.”

“I will not, I promise.” he was desperate, “now, give me the pizza.”

He took the box from her hand and almost immediately started biting a giant piece, when Farhan said, “Are not you ashamed? Watch your waistline.”

“That’s none of my concern as long as Archie is okay with it.” He was busy gorging on pizzas.

Jhelum was laughing whole heartedly. Farhan could not control himself either and burst into laughing.

Then she offered him another pizza from the box.

First he refused, and then ate a piece when she insisted. Meanwhile, Jhelum was enjoying a fast melting chocolate truffle cake.

“How’s the truffle cake?”  Farhan said, wittily, “very good, isn’t it?” to which Jhelum nodded. Her mouth was full, so she could not answer.

“It is pretty evident from the chocolate marks on your cheeks.” He said laughing. Jhelum wiped off the chocolate from her cheeks and sides of her lips.

“Don’t wipe them off. The chocolate marks are looking good on your dimpled cheeks.” he was laughing.

Jhelum was all smiles as usual.

Same words but in a different context, Farhan looked at her. She is so very different from the Jhelum he knew in WW; silent, dull cheerless, and pensive.

“Jhelum, do you remember how you got back home that night?’’ he asked.

“Yep, not that night, “She said, pausing to look at him” Next day morning; by your car.”

Six of them, including Jhelum, Chowhan, and Farhan along with three others left in the office cab at around 2.20 a.m.  She was the last one to board the cab as she was busy talking to her beau Roop (Farhan came to know that later). Finally, when she got into the cab, she was still on the phone, explaining him why she was leaving office so late and also said that there were five more ladies in the cab (a white lie, of course, to which everybody in the cab was laughing). Her face was flushed from the excitement of speaking to him.

On one hand Jhelum was holding the phone and the other hand was holding her half-open laptop bag (the charging chord and other stuff in it were almost spilling over). Chowhan helped with her bag and finally, she got into the cab. Farhan made way for her to settle on a window side seat. She was still on the phone when the cab started.

“Why don’t you believe me?” Jhelum said. The other two ladies, Candice and Padmini who were seated nearby, were looking at her, curiously.

“I can hear only men’s voices. Where are you? Who are you with?” said the loud voice from the other side.

“Stop asking stupid questions. You can call up my manager Sunaina Parekh and ask. ” she seemed irritated at the lengthy round of questions.

Suddenly the guy on the other side became calm.

Then he whispered something that embarrassed Jhelum. She took a quick look at every one sitting close and muttered, ‘please, not now. Let’s speak tomorrow. I am in the office cab.”

She said goodnight and hung up.

 Farhan was feeling amused at the whole spectacle. “Who was it, your father? “He asked, jokingly, knowing well it was someone else.

“No. Baba never asks so many questions. He is happy with whatever I say. “Jhelum stopped for a minute,” he was my would-be-hubby.”

“Very possessive about his would-be-wife indeed” Chowhan added.

“Not possessive. He is concerned.” She said.

“Oh. I see. As if we do not know” Chowhan was laughing.

“Well, if he is so much concerned, he could have come to pick you up from office.” Farhan asked apprehensively.

“No. that’s not possible, because he is in Pune.”

“Oh, I am sorry in that case.”

“It is okay, Farhan.” She leaned back on the car seat. “You see, he misses me.”

“Miss you? Not possible.” Chowhan retorted.

“Why?” Jhelum was surprised.

“How can one miss you when the chatterbox is on 24X7?”

“Chowhan, you are just too much.”

She was laughing profusely. The silent late night cab was filled with sounds of her laughter. How easily she finds a reason to laugh, Farhan was wondering, when all others in the cab are either sleeping or listening to music. She must be very happy with her life, he thought. Finally, she stopped.

A brief silence prevailed in the cab. Farhan was listening to music on his ipod. The other two girls were talking about some domestic issues. Jhelum looked at him and asked, “What are you listening to?”

“Goodbye My Lover, James Blunt” he replied, removing the ear plugs for a second.

“Hey, you like romantic numbers?” was the next question before he could plug in again.

Yes. Farhan nodded. “Mostly, English band music”

“…and hums them to his lady at times” Chowhan turned to Farhan now.

“Lady?” Jhelum had also taken notice,” Chowhan, your serious-looking friend has a lady love too?”

“Of course.”Chowhan retorted.

“Oh Chowhan, please stop it.” Farhan answered back,” I am engaged to her, that’s all.”

“Oh really? Who also sends you the lovey-dovey messages every now and then?”

Farhan gave him a stern look (which meant, please shut up, will you?).

Jhelum rolled her eyes, “who is the lucky girl?”

He showed her the engagement ring on his ring finger, “her name is Aisha.”

“He got engaged to his childhood sweetheart a year back.” Chowhan retorted.

“Unbelievable.  You turned out to be a Chhupa Rustam.” She shook up in her seat.

“Nothing like that.” Farhan added, “She is my dad’s friend Azim uncle’s daughter. Our families know each other for many years; hundred percent arranged marriage. No Bollywood story.”

“Aha... I see” Jhelum was a bit disappointed, it seemed. “Show me her photo.”

“Sure.” He took out his iphone to show her pictures of their engagement ceremony.

“She is so pretty.” Jhelum said.

Aisha was looking very beautiful indeed in pink lehnga choli and diamond jewelry.

“…and when are you guys getting married? “She asked.

“Next year. April 24th“Farhan replied.

The cab halted with a jerk. The two ladies got down at Kasturi Nagar. Jhelum was looking at him with a surprised look.

“Hey, that’s my marriage date!” she exclaimed.

“Oh. Is it?” Farhan was not much interested.

“So, I will not be coming to your wedding.” Jhelum said, smiling.

“I am not inviting you either.” Farhan answered.

“How mean!” she said, with mock anger, to which he quickly retorted, “of course, you are invited. My wedding would be incomplete without an RJ!”

Jhelum was laughing again.

“I am not attending either of the two weddings. I have my vacation planned with Archie six months ahead.” Chowhan replied.

Both Jhelum and Farhan looked at him with scorned faces. But Chetan Chowhan was too smart. He concentrated on his mobile phone screen instead.

Farhan turned towards Jhelum and asked, “So, what’s your story, Jhelum?”

“Well, we were both in the same engineering college and then love happened.” She said in a somewhat mushy tone.

“Hmm… I see batch mates.” Farhan nodded, “and then soul mates?”

“Yep” She replied with a smile.

“All straight and simple? No kahani mein twist?” he asked.

“Not exactly” She looked out of the window, “of course, there were objections, from my parents. But as you know love wins it all.”

“So, how long have you been together?

“Well, almost six years. Four years in college and the rest after college. Initially, we were both in Bangalore, working in two different companies. Very recently he got a better opportunity and moved to Pune.”

“So, you will be relocating to Pune, post-marriage?” he asked.

“No, probably to Singapore” she said tying a bun with her hair.

“Why Singapore? “Farhan was curious.

“…because Roop will be moving to Singapore for a long-term project.”

“Oh I see. So, you will be leaving WW in a few months?”

She nodded. “Still have some time, say about four months”

“So, you have applied for a business visa?” He asked.

“Yes. I want to work in Singapore.” She said, with a pause, “But Roop does not want me to work after marriage.”

“Why? “He was surprised.

“He wants me to devote time for family. “She turned her face away. The halogen street lamp cast a melancholy shade of yellow on her face.

Farhan could sense an ongoing conflict in her willingness to continue working as software professional and her beau’s disregard of her ambition.

“Did he agree?” he asked.

“Well, kind of.”

“What about Aisha? Is she working somewhere?” Jhelum asked.

“No. Actually she is self-employed. Aisha is a fashion designer.”

“Hey, that’s great! “

“Yeah. She already has two boutiques in Ahmedabad, our hometown” he answered, “and is planning to set up one in Bangalore.”

“What does she design? Women’s wear?”

“Yeah, mostly wedding collection; she is also into fashion accessory designing, such as bags and footwear”

“I see. You know a lot about designing, it seems” she said, with a smile, “very impressive.”

“Not a big deal. My family is into jewelry business for well over two generations.  Both my sisters are into jewelry designing. So, I know a thing or two, that’s it.”

“Don’t try to be modest; Farhan.” Chowhan interrupted, turning towards Jhelum, “They are the Zaveriwallas of Manek Chowk!”

Jhelum was staring at him with her mouth ajar. “So, you are diamond merchants?”

“No. He nodded. ”not me. My grandfather and father.”

The cab stopped and another guy got down at Hirandahalli.  There was only the three of them in the cab.

“So, what are you doing here in WW?” She asked. “When you have a flourishing family business?”

“Well, I wanted to study Finance and do a job. I did not want to join dad’s business. My elder brother is there to take care of that. ”Farhan was looking outside the window. “May be I will start my own business someday.”

They were both silent for a while. Jhelum was looking out of the window. Chowhan was dozing and Farhan was listening to music.

 The cab was drawing close to Hoskote. The December night was cold and dark.

“Chowhan, will you come to stay at my place tonight?” he asked as it was a regular practice for him to go home with Farhan on Fridays when he was not partying with Archie.

“I will come with you,” said a sleepy Chowhan.  The radium digits on Farhan’s wrist showed the time: it was 3.40 am.

All of a sudden, the cab came to a halt.

“What happened?” Farhan asked.

“Don’t know saab,” the cab driver replied wryly. “I need to find out.”

He got down and started checking for faults. Ten minutes passed. Farhan got down and asked him, “is it fixed? Can you start the car now?”

The middle-aged cab driver looked very tired and mumbled, “I don’t think anything can be done now. Should I call at office and ask them to send another cab?” he looked worried.

“No. you do not need to call up at office. I can walk home from here. Barely ten minutes’ walk. Chowhan can come with me.” Farhan replied, and then looking at Jhelum, sitting inside the cab, he said “But, what about her?”

He was feeling anxious for her. Should they leave her stranded in an empty cab at such an odd hour? No. he should not let that happen. She might be just another co-worker; but he was concerned.

Chowhan had finally woken up, “what? Are we going home today? What happened to the cab?”

Farhan got in and said, “The cab has broken down and it cannot be fixed immediately.  Chowhan and I will walk the way home.”

He looked at her face. It bore a frightened and insecure look, like a bird that has lost its way. “What will I do now?”

“If you do not mind, I have a suggestion.” He paused for a second, “you can come along with us and put up at my apartment for the night.”

She looked slightly anxious.  

“I know what you are thinking. You do not need to be worried.” He assured her, “I have a two BHK apartment. So, you will have enough space for yourself.”

She was still silent. Jhelum Roy unresponsive for more than five minutes? Now, he was growing nervous.

“I can assure you that you will be safe in my flat.” he said with a pause, slightly hesitant. “I understand it is difficult choice for you. But I assure you that nothing will bother you.”

Suddenly she smiled and said, “I know. You do not need to tell me that. Let’s go. ”

Farhan’s 2 BHK flat in Hoskote is beautifully furnished. Jhelum looked at the soft pastel shades on the living room walls and décor and appreciated his choice. “Aisha is a lucky girl, it seems.”

He smiled and did not reply. “Does not quite look like a bachelor’s flat” she continued, “it is so well maintained.”

 “Not when I am around” interrupted Chowhan who was hogging into the refrigerator to find a beer bottle. He had already littered the plush sofa with left over from a chips packet. Jhelum gave him an angry look and was clearing up the mess when her phone rang once again.

As she picked up the phone, the male voice from the other side asked, “Where are you, sweetheart?” loud enough to be heard by both Farhan and Chowhan.

“I’m back to hostel.” She said, nonchalantly, “don’t worry.”

The voice on the other side said something to which Jhelum said bye and hung up.

“Concerned, aha?” asked an amused Chowhan.

Yes. Jhelum nodded her head.

No, thought Farhan, why did she lie to Roopayan? Was she scared to tell him the truth? Even after six years of courtship? Why does he disbelieve her over such small matters?

He looked at her. She looked disturbed and tense, despite her signature smile (which was hiding something from the world). But Farhan did not say anything. Instead he showed her the other bedroom and said, “Here it is. Get some sleep. You had a long and tiring day.”

 

 

Frahan looked at Jhelum. She had already fallen asleep. Same room, and the same bed… he bit his lips.

He should have changed the bed sheet. It has not been changed since yesterday. Never mind; will do it tomorrow, first thing in the morning. He placed a pillow below Jhelum’s head very carefully and covered her with a quilt.  He switched off the bright light and instead turned on the bedside lamp. He was about leave the room when he heard a buzzing noise.

Something was vibrating.

He stepped in. It was Jhelum’s cell phone on the bedside table. The mint blue screen showed 5 missed calls and 7 message from the same number. Farhan once thought of switching off the mobile, it would wake her up.  Then, he changed his mind and put it down and decided to leave the room. He had barely reached the doorway when he heard the buzzing sound again. He turned back and picked up the phone. The vibration stopped. He ran his finger across the screen. One new message received.

The message was:

“Don’t think you can escape from my hands. You cannot go far with the child you are carrying. I know where to find you, filthy bitch!”

Sent by Roopayan Sinha, 2.34 am


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