Best Friends Forever
In the middle of the flight, Kiara woke up to go to the washroom. When she returned, she was too lazy to push her way into the middle seat. And with Rishaan readily offering to shift seats, the seating arrangement changed. With 20 minutes still remaining for the flight to land, a sleep-starved Kiara took another power nap, this time holding Rishaan's right hand more firmly. Rishaan's other hand, though, nervously moved to touch Diya's. Her heart skipped a beat. Diya pulled her hand away. But a defiant Rishaan held her wrist again, this time firmly and more reassuringly. The changing behavioural dynamics between the three perhaps gave out a foreboding of what was to come in Goa.
When the flight landed at the Dabolim Airport, Rishaan felt uncanny...his excitement seemed replaced by an unknown fear that he found very difficult to decipher. He didn’t have time to deliberate on his feelings for long as Kiara’s whining voice reminded him of looking for their ride to the resort. Strange, he reflected not too long ago he had described Kiara to his brother in the US as having the softest and melodious of tones. Familiarity leads to the scales falling off love’s eyes pretty fast, he mused as the taxi wound its way to Fort Aguada.
The girls for once were not chattering nineteen to the dozen and seemed lost in their own thoughts. He wondered if Kiara would have noticed that Diya was quieter these days. Diya, oh, Diya! Are you thinking of me?
Kiara was disconcerted, she had been noticing Rishaan withdrawing for the last few weeks and today on the plane she had opened her eyes and seen him holding Diya’s hand. Kiara’s world had shifted on its axis. This was Rishaan! The guy who had relentlessly chased her for the first two years of college. Promised his undying devotion, flattered her, and pampered her into believing that no one could love her as much as he. And finally she too had fallen for that charm and was now hopelessly in love with him. And Diya! Her best friend! Her soul-sister! What the hell was going on? She kept stealing glances at Rishaan sitting in the front and Diya sitting next to her apparently dozing.
Diya weighed down by guilt and her mind in turmoil over her own feelings kept her eyes closed; she couldn’t bear to look at either of her two companions. ‘Kiara and I have been besties since we were four. How can I even contemplate all this?’ She thought. Her face burned with shame and then with anger at Rishaan. ‘Why the hell did he have to start noticing me now!’
Diya had fallen for him the first day they met the dashing Rishaan, yet he had eyes only for Kiara all the while. How she had suffered his non-stop wooing of Kiara and then their non-stop cooing once they started going steady. Till suddenly, the dynamics had changed four weeks back, when on a rainy night Rishaan and Kiara had a huge showdown. Diya had stood by Rishaan and blasted Kiara on being insensitive towards him. It was as if Rishaan had seen Diya for the first time that night. Since then he had been focused on her. Calling her at all hours. Wanting to talk to her. Wanting to know if she felt the same as him.
Their arrival at the resort brought with it a temporary break in the reflections of the three. The tension in the room was palpable as Kiara and Diya settled their stuff. Yet neither said anything.
Rishaan stood by the window of his room oblivious to the breathtaking scene of sand and surf that played out in front of him. His mind was full of trepidation. ‘How could I have been such an idiot?’ he wondered, chasing after the rainbow only to find fool’s gold. All that had charmed him about Kiara her beautiful eyes, her amazing figure, her husky laugh and her confidence. Yes, that confidence that had drawn him to her now irked him the most. She was too damn independent! He had thought he could handle her and she would hang onto his every word and make him the centre of her universe just like he was used to all his life surrounded by a doting mother and three older sisters. He could now only think of Diya, whom he’d never given much attention to all this time. She always seemed to pale into insignificance around Kiara. What a firebrand she had turned into that day, her eyes flashing green and her colour heightened as she had yelled at Kiara. She had looked so alive and so beautiful. He then began to recall all the times he’d caught her looking at him and suspected that she cared for him a little more than he’d thought. His ego bolstered by this new thought had quickly shifted its affections towards Diya. Now if only Diya would accept his feelings. He would break it off with Kiara. ‘Diya and I can then be together,’ he thought, ‘she’s the kind that can be moulded to my way of thinking’.
Kiara could not take the stress anymore. She needed to get out and be by herself for a while. Before she said something that would break the strong ties that she shared with Diya. Kiara knew her confidence came from Diya, who was the rock she had clung to. Diya’s home was her safe heaven growing up as the only child of a broken family living with a bitter, alcoholic mother and an unwelcome burden on an insensitive father who had remarried and was obviously very happy with his new family. Diya was the only one who knew that Kiara’s outward confidence was just a façade to hide the bleeding heart inside. Diya was her anchor and Kiara knew it.
“I’m going to take a walk by the beach,” she announced rushing out of the room.
Diya was used to Kiara’s ways and knew that she did not want her company right now. This trip had been planned right on the first day that the girls had started college. They would celebrate their graduation by attending the Sunburn Festival all alone. Both girls, major EDM enthusiasts were dying to attend the festival, but, Diya’s parents anxious about safety had refused permission before. They had compromised to be allowed to go after they finished college. Rishaan, being Kiara’s boyfriend, had of course decided that he too must attend.
She lay down on the bed and closed her eyes. This was supposed to have been their coming-of-age trip and here they were barely able to look each other in the eye.
Rishaan saw Kiara walking along the shoreline, Diya must be alone, and this is the perfect time to talk to her without that whiny bitch present!
He rushed out of his room towards the girl’s room and knocked on the door.
“Rishaan, What the heck!” yelled Diya as she opened the door. “I told you to leave me alone!”
“Come on Diya. You and I both know the truth. I love you and I know you feel the same!” he pleaded, “Let me come in, I need to talk with you.”
Not wanting to cause more of a scene in the corridor Diya let Rishaan into the room. She sat down dejectedly in front of him.
“I have told you time and again, I’m not interested in taking this further,” she said.
“But, you know,” he began.
“Yes, I know, but, Kiara is my friend, I cannot…No, I will not hurt her so!” she flashed back angrily.
Rishaan got up from where he sat and came towards her holding her by her arms and pulling her up. He looked into her eyes and saw the tears there and his heart broke into a thousand pieces.
“I don’t want to hurt you babe,” saying this he hugged her close. In a weak moment Diya laid her head on his shoulder and burst into tears, the strain of the last few weeks taking its toll on her.
Just then Kiara walked into the room and stopped dead looking at her best friend and her boyfriend embracing each other, a nightmare come true. The other two sprung apart guiltily. The silence in the room was deafening.
“Why… What,” whispered Kiara as the pain of this betrayal shot through her heart shattering her.
“Kiara, I have come to realise that I don’t love you anymore. Diya is the one I love,” stated Rishaan, hoping that his candid confession would help sever his relationship with Kiara.
A dazed Kiara could only look on stupidly at Rishaan and then Diya as the full force of Rishaan’s words hit her and left her gasping for breath.
Diya could not believe Rishaan could be so cold and unfeeling towards the woman he had professed was the love of his life just a few days back. The scales fell from her eyes and she saw Rishaan for the shallow human being that he was. An intense feeling of love for her best friend rose from within her awakening her protective instinct.
“Get out of here you unfeeling bastard,” she said through gritted teeth. “Do not for one moment think I could ever care for a creep such as you!”
Rishaan stood there flabbergasted, “But…but…I love you!”
“Love, what do you the meaning of the word. Kiara one day and Diya the other! Kiara is my best friend and I know that I could never love anyone who could treat her in this shabby manner.”
Green eyes flashing Diya looked magnificent in her rage. Kiara could not help but be proud of her friend for standing up for her in this manner.
Gathering herself up she looked at Rishaan coldly, “I think it’s time you were on your way!”
Rishaan utterly confused stood there gaping like a fool and then stomped out of the room, with his battered ego,
Kiara and Diya looked at each other with tears in their eyes. “Thanks,” whispered Kiara.
“Quite a charmer isn’t he?” said Diya wincing.
They both started laughing.
“So we got our hearts broken by the same bastard!” said Kiara
“On the same day too!” laughed Diya, “Now that’s some friendship.”