“Get lost!… Beggar in saffron dress… you won’t get a penny here!” 

Ketan yelled just after opening the door. The lady in the saffron saree with a white tilak across her forehead, got startled. She composed herself and moved away, but didn’t leave.

“Radha, where is my lunch box? This irritating woman is never on time” He hollered and blared his bike’s horn in frustration.

Radha came running from inside the house clutching the lunch box in her hands. She looked anxious and was drenched in sweat. She tripped twice in an attempt to run fast.

“Crazy woman…” Ketan glared at her and snatched the box from her hand and drove away muttering a few more silent curses.

Radha’s shoulders slumped and she let out a deep sigh. She wiped her sweat-laden face with the end of her saree but paused midway. The saffron-clad lady was standing in front of her. Radha’s body started trembling and her eyes popped out. Fear and disbelief clouded her face. Tears pooled at the corner of her eyes. 

“Meera…” she mumbled and took a few steps backwards.

“I dreamt that you died…” The lady said.

************************************************************************************************

Meera took a sip of the aam-panna.

“Is this made from the mangoes of Mahendra uncle’s orchard? We have so many childhood memories of stealing them from the trees…”

“Yes, the same” A smile escaped Radha’s lips  “But now I buy it from him.”

“How boring!” Meera smirked.

“Can you forgive me Meera?” Radha asked all of a sudden.

“For marrying your best friend’s fiance in secret?” Meera gulped the aam-panna in one go.

Radha hid her face in her palms and sobbed. The whirring of the fan was the only other sound that could be heard.

“Even I can’t be forgiven for running away in the agony of being cheated by my best friend…” Meera swallowed a lump in her throat.

“And that too for who? That knucklehead Ketan treats you like a doormat and couldn’t even recognize me!” She threw her hands up in disgust.

“We were idiots to fall in love with him … young girls intoxicated with the idea of romance” Meera rolled her eyes in exasperation.

“Where were you all these years?” Radha asked, wiping her tears.

“I boarded a random train to leave a world that deceived me. I met a group of sanyasis on that train. They gave me refuge and I became one of them. I offered myself to God” She folded her hands in devotion.

“Your dream was true, Meera. I’m suffering from a slow death. I’m getting punished for that sin everyday. I didn’t know when jealousy and competition crept in our friendship. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about you.” Her voice choked.

“I must leave…“ Meera got up from her chair.

“And I have forgiven you my friend… a long time ago” Meera hugged Radha in a tight embrace. 

“You can’t leave again…” Radha pleaded.

“Hasta la vista my friend… Hasta la vista…” Meera smiled and walked away.

************************************************************************************************

Borrowed Word:

Hasta la vista – A spanish farewell that means ‘until the next time we see each other’.

Glossary:

Tilak – A religious mark made on the forehead.

Aam-panna – A tangy raw mango drink.

Pic Credit : Caroline Hernandez 


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