The pain caused him to take a step back as he reeled from the impact. Kunal was a strong guy and much bigger than him, but more than the strength it was the shock that had his head reeling. He now stood face to face with the one person who had been with him when he was alone and he knew it in his heart that he could not hit him back.
He still remembered his first day in college. Coming from a small place like his, Mumbai was a big place and it was but natural to feel out of sorts. And to it there was the usual seniors and the ragging stuff. He was sitting in a corner in the class when Kunal had come with his gang of guys and introduced himself. They had come to size up the ‘villager’ but a few jokes later he could feel a bond building between them and soon enough he himself was a part of that group.
Time flew by as they indulged in the usual stuff that college-goers indulge in. There were those long night outs with booze and dope and ogling. A lot of ogling, in fact. None of them had ever been in a relationship and it was as if that gave them the right to ogle and remark at every dame that touched their fancy. Time was flying by when Roshni happened. He had no idea how and when Kunal had met her when one fine day he introduced her to the group as his girl. After that, Roshni often hung out with their gang and while they had to reform some of their habits because of her presence, she nevertheless was a welcome addition to their group.
He was sleeping that night when Roshni called him. She was crying and could barely talk. As he tried to pacify her he learnt that she had yet another fight with Kunal and that he had told her never to talk to him again. He remembered Kunal once saying: “If there is one person in my life I can’t let go, it’s her”. He cared for Kunal and could not see them drifting apart. He tried to console her and put her to sleep and determined to make Kunal see sense the next morning. However, Kunal was nowhere to be seen. He had not come to the college and his phone was out of reach. It had been a fortnight since anyone had heard anything from him and Roshni called him almost every day in the meanwhile. He found himself getting more and more attracted to the softness in her but a part of him told him how wrong he was. He was not one to hit on his best friend’s girl.
And then that day happened. He came to college that day to find Kunal waiting for him at the gate. He looked stoned and as he went ahead to hug him, he could not even dream that he would be greeted with a slap.
As the thoughts flashed by his mind, Kunal charged at him again and before he knew, he was on the ground- kicked at by his best friend. Soon enough a crowd gathered and he could see Roshni pulling Kunal back. He was hurt. His body was tortured, but his heart blamed him- a part of him said he had done it to himself, letting himself get carried away and yet another part saw no wrong. He had helped Roshni to keep faith in Kunal when he wasn’t there. He felt like a friend and a traitor at the same time. He blamed himself for losing a friend while a part of him rejoiced at the arms holding him up. He knew it was cruel, but he could not help it when he asked her, his eyes straining to see how he reacts, –“Let’s go away, this guy doesn’t deserve us.”