Saturday, October 4, 2014

Gaga Chronicles Part 4: Fight for love – the (anti) climax

This is Part 4 of the story 'Gaga Chronicles'. To read Part 1, click here. To read Part 2, click here. To read Part 3, click here.
Disclaimer: This is a work of pure fiction. All the characters and the sequences are a figment of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to any person dead or alive is purely coincidental.
 November 11th, 2011:
I did not call her after the anniversary. I was frustrated that a day that I considered very important was insignificant to her. She did not even remember it. I wanted to message her something that very night, but refrained from doing so knowing that I was angry. The last time I did something like that, a big fight ensued between us. Thankfully, I was able to resist myself this time around. The following week, I decided that I would not message her or talk to her. If she wants, let her talk to me or message me. I am not going to initiate anything.

I actually felt good that week. It was like the ball was in my court now and that I was holding the aces by ignoring her. She did message me two times in Whatsapp that week. I did not respond. It felt great to be doing something to her that which she normally does to me. 

I was sitting in my room that night when at 11 PM, I got a mail from her. I was skeptical as to what it’d contain. It seemed like a long letter. I was in two minds whether to read it or not. But you can’t resist a letter from your girlfriend, you see. I opened and read it. She had written in detail about how her life at IIM B has been so far. She had written about certain things in detail that which we haven’t spoken of during those calls. Strangely enough, there was no mention of her best ‘buddy’ in IIM B who I considered to be my villain now. However, reading that letter gave me a sense of satisfaction and relief for she had taken the pains to write such a detailed letter. Also, her tone was very sweet in that letter and it only added to my joy. I wanted to thank her for the letter with a detailed reply of my own, but I could not find the right words. So I just replied ‘I love you’ to her, not expecting any reply. Surprisingly, she replied saying “Me too”. That totally made my day, for she only replies “Thanks” whenever I say ‘I love you’ to her. I felt overjoyed and slept very peacefully after a long time that day.

November 17th, 2011:

The week after that letter, we messaged each other frequently and I felt things were back to how they were, a year back. I was happy all week. 

On my birthday, she called me at midnight to wish me. I was thrilled and thanked her. Ashwin, Ananya & Sahana made me cut a cake they had got for me. I told Gaga about it when we spoke and surprisingly, she asked me to send the pics. I was elated. Since Sahana had taken the pics, I asked her to send the pics to Gayu and gave her Gayu’s id. That afternoon, I got a courier. It was a gift from Gayu. She had got me a beautiful woolen jacket to be used in the upcoming winter. I simply loved it and was floored by the gift. I immediately called her to thank her. But her tone was completely different now. She sounded as though she was angry with me. I didn’t know why. I just thanked her and ended the call. I could not guess the reason for her anger and I decided to forget it thinking that it must be because of some work pressure or some impending deadline. 

The next morning, she did not reply when I messaged her something. From her whatsapp header, I could clearly see that she had come online after my message, but did not bother to reply. I thought about the events of yesterday to try and find out as to what could be the reason for her anger and if I had done something that angered her. Then I remembered that she asked me for the pics. I called Sahana to check if she had mailed Gayu the pics. She answered in the affirmative. So, I asked her to forward that same mail to me. I got the mail and I went through the pics. That’s when it struck me. One of the pics had just Ananya and me and she was feeding me a slice of cake. The pic looked really good and Ananya looked gorgeous in that pic. Any third person who sees that pic would mistake us for a couple. I realized that Gaga would have gotten angry on seeing the pic. So I called her again in the evening. She did not pick up. I called her twice that night but again got no response. I called her again and this time she picked up. She sounded irritated.

“Gaga, why are you avoiding my calls? I really liked the jacket. Thanks a ton! So thoughtful of you!”

“Fine. What do you want now?” I am not in a mood to talk to you. I don’t want to talk to you.”

“Why? What’s wrong? I hope I have not done something to anger you?”

“Really? Think about it. I take the pains to call you and wish you in the dead of the night. I order a gift for you to surprise you. But you? You are happily spending time with that stupid girl there, forgetting all about me.”

Oh, so that’s what it is! Just as I had suspected.

I spent the next 15 minutes convincing her that Ananya was only a friend and there was nothing between us and that Gaga was the only person who dominated my thoughts. In between, she hurled a couple of mild abuses at Ananya. It’s funny how girls behave in the face of such competition. It amused me as to how a soft-spoken girl like Gaga could get all worked up about another girl who she suspected of trying to usurp me from her. It’s always a good situation to be in when a girl fights for your love and attention and becomes possessive. But then, I thought about how I felt the same way about Kaushik. I then felt a little ashamed of myself and apologized to Gaga for giving way to suspicions. I assured her that Ananya was only a friend and promised to keep a distance. I had half a mind to tell her the same thing about Kaushik, but you can’t, you see. I knew that if I said something about Kaushik, she’d accuse me of suspecting her and would cry and the fight would prolong. So I did not mention Kaushik, despite her hurling so many accusations at me and Ananya. Double standards, some may call it. But that’s how long distance relationships work! It requires a lot a compromises and sacrifices and more often than not, it’s the boy who has to give in.

November 27th, 2011:

Since the call, we were messaging each other in whatsapp and I thought that things were fine even though we did not speak to each other. That morning, she messaged me that she was going on a trip to Coorg, a hill station nearby, with her friends. I wanted to ask her as to who were the friends, but refrained from doing so. I just wished her a happy journey. I felt slightly disturbed that day. 

I met Ashwin and the girls that evening. Over the past one month or so, I could sense that Ananya was increasingly getting closer to me. She sat by my side in class every day and she often visited me in my room even when the other two weren’t present. I was not sure as to what she had in her mind, but to honour the promise I made to Gaga, I made it a point to tell her something or the other about Gaga every day, just to put her off. But she seemed to like those stories a lot and was tacitly asking me to tell more about Gaga. I felt strange about this. I thought my talks about Gaga would put her off, but it only made her become more interested in me and these stories. Girls are strange, you see. You can never understand them. Never. 

That evening, while talking, I told them about how Gayu is going on a trip with her friends. Everyone gave a collective “Wowwww!” Ashwin then told me how a trip to the hill station is the best avenue to kindly your romantic interests and he recounted a story about how a love story between two of his former colleagues clicked after they went on an office picnic to a hill station. This totally irked me. Idiot! Why did he have to tell me this now?

Two days later:

Gayu messaged me saying that the trip was awesome and that she had a whale of a time with her friends. She told me that her ‘friend’ had uploaded the pics and asked me to check them out by visiting his profile. I was irked. I wasted no time and logged on to FB. I saw about 25 pics and she was with that loafer Kaushik in about 20 of them. They were alone in about 10 pics. Just the two of them. Posing in front of the scenic beauty of the hills like a couple. Reading the comments below the pics only heightened my disappointment and anger. The comments ranged from ‘the next pair in the making’ and some winking smileys to ‘love is in the air’ and ‘made for each other’. That was the last nail in the coffin. I was hugely disappointed. I skipped classes that day. Was she taking revenge on me for that Ananya pic? If that were true, it was very childish of her, I thought. I could not contain my disappointment. Here she was advising and extracting a promise from me only 10 days back, and now she’s doing the same. I tried to calm myself down saying that she only posed with him as a friend as she was not holding him in any of the pics and it was just the crowd that had taken to all the teasing in the comments. Still, it was very very difficult for me. Unable to contain myself, I called her. She did not pick. I decided to let it rest and go to sleep. 

Seeing me not present in class, Ananya came calling to my room in the afternoon. I was trying to sleep, but couldn’t. I opened the door for her. She came in. Seeing me dull, she asked me what the matter was. 

I was longing to pour my angst at someone and wasted no time in telling her all that had happened. Ananya asked me to come out with her and she took me out for lunch. She got me lunch and consoled me that it was all going to be alright and asked me not to think about it. I felt better after lunch and we returned to my room. There she told me that it’s time that I stopped bothering myself too much about Gaga.

“Akshay, you are letting yourself down because of her. You should stop worrying too much about her and start concentrating on yourself. Look at you! You are everything that a girl would dream of! You’re such a nice person. You are capable of so many things. Yet, you keep wasting your time on her while she doesn’t seem to care. You got to be doing many more things Akshay. You’re a brilliant quizzer and you write well too. You got to go out and start concentrating on those things. Go, do the things you like. Give it some time and give it a rest. Things will slowly fall in place.”

God! She was beautiful! Not for nothing had the boys named her the most beautiful girl in the campus and it’s not without a reason were they all jealous of me because of my closeness to her.

I just sat there and kept looking into her eyes. Her words were like a soothing balm for my injured heart.
She clasped my hands in hers and looked at me.

“You deserve better Akshay!” she said and she came forward and hugged me. I did not resist. I hugged her back. This time around, she lent me the shoulder that I needed to cry on and drown my sorrows. 

Boys are emotionally gullible too! You just need to put the right words. 

When my senses returned after nearly a full minute, I broke free from her hug and thanked her. I told her that I felt much better now and it is best that she leaves now as I wanted to spend some time alone. She did not protest and she calmly left with a “Take care Akshay!”

December 15th, 2011:

I did not talk to Gaga since that day. It had been two weeks and we had our exams too. When she messaged me something in whatsapp, I replied with a one word answer – ‘Exams’. With that she did not message me further. With Ananya too, normalcy returned. It’s to her credit, she did not talk about anything that happened that day and we focused on our Term 2 exams. Post the exams, we did not have any holidays then as our holidays were scheduled for the Christmas- New Year weekend. 

We had our Summer Placements scheduled in between. The week after the exams was spent on that. I felt that I wanted an Operations/Supply Chain profile as that was what I felt comfortable in. So I applied for Amazon and managed to land a Summer Internship Offer with them. They told me that my project would be in Delhi and I had no problems with that. The other three too landed good offers. We felt happy that week. I informed Gayu in Whatsapp about it. She congratulated me and told me that she had landed an internship with HUL about a month back. This kinda irked me for she did not feel the need to tell me this while I informed her about mine the very day. I registered my protest. She told me that she forgot all about it and that she was sorry.  I still felt irritated that she chose not to tell me about what was supposedly the biggest news for any B School student in the first year. Disappointed as I was, I decided to let it rest. I realized that the lesser I cared, the better I felt. You get hurt only when you care and when you expect. Without care and expectations, there won’t be any hurt. But, it was easier said than done for my mind kept thinking about her every day. I had to fight a battle every day to keep it under control.

New Year 2012:

The four of us had come on a trip to Darjeeling. The idea was to witness snow for the first time in our lives and we did. Though it was a memorable trip, I could not take Gaga off my mind. I kept thinking of her every now and then. I had messaged her about the trip and she just did not respond. I realized that her exams might be going on. Still, it irked me. 

Ananya stayed close to my side throughout the trip. Though I liked her presence, I felt that I should not provide fodder for her feelings, which was kinda very apparent now. On New Year’s Eve, when we all wished each other, Ananya openly hugged me in the presence of the other two. I did not return the hug and felt embarrassed. That afternoon, I got a message from Gayu wishing me a Happy New Year. I just replied with a one word ‘Thanks’.  I felt distraught when my mind raced back to New Year 2010. I hated Gayu back then. Now again, I hated her and was angry with her. But the only difference was that, now my hate sprung from a deep love within. 

Ashwin and Sahana realized what was going on in Ananya’s mind and spoke to me about it. I was honest with them and told them all that had happened. Sahana warned me that I was treading on a dangerous path and that it could all get so complicated if I did not make it clear to Ananya, as she might be harbouring false hopes. I realized the truth in her words and decided to talk to Ananya about it very soon.

The next day, we returned to Ahmedabad. Once I was back in my room, I decided to message Gaga. I messaged her asking if she remembers me. She replied saying as to how could she forget me. She then told me about a quiz that she witnessed at her institute the previous day and she told me that had I been there, I’d have simply aced it. She knew me well and she knew exactly what she should say to make me calm down. She played her cards well with the talk about the quiz. I could not get angry at her after that for sure. We exchanged messages for about 30 mins, when I felt the need to talk to her. So, I called her and she picked up. I told her about the Darjeeling trip and told her that I had got a rare key chain for her. She thanked me. Surprisingly, she even took the fact that Ananya was there with me on the trip, well. When everything was going well, all of a sudden, she told me that she found some boys in her batch to be really cute and were the perfect gentlemen that she had always dreamt of. I felt taken aback but tried to sound casual by teasing her about it and asking her not to forget me. She replied with a “Let’s see” and ended the call with a “Good Night”. Whether she said that just to irk me in response to Ananya accompanying me on the trip or whether she had other intentions behind saying it, I did not know. But it surely spoilt the remainder of that day for me.

January 14th, 2012:

It was Sankaranthi/Pongal. The four of us celebrated Pongal at a function that had been organized by a local cultural association. The past ten days were not the best for me as Gaga’s words kept troubling me. “There are some very interesting guys here Akshay. Real gentlemen. The sort I always dreamt of.”

Was it an indication for me to back off and break away? Was she discretely telling me that it was time I forget her and moved on? I really did not know and my mind was troubled.  I sent her messages everyday but hardly got any replies. The bubble was finally burst on the day of Pongal. I sent a message wishing her and pleaded with her to reply. I don’t know if I ever caved in so much in my life before. She replied with the following message:

Happy Pongal Akshay! I want to tell you something. Why do you keep sending me so many messages? I think it’s high time you realize that we give ourselves a break. I am not suggesting anything radical right now, but I feel that we need to take some time off each other to see where things are headed, for I honestly don’t think it’s working in the present way. Plus, seeing all the wonderful guys here, my mind does get swayed at times and I am beginning to wonder if I acted in haste, with respect to you. We’ll still keep in touch, but let’s understand our differences and realize where we are. Hope you take this in the right sense. Wishing you the best always!

That’s when it hit me hard. Is this a break-up? Or is she suggesting that we take a break? I was reminded of Ross Geller’s ‘We were on a break!’ from FRIENDS. I simply felt numb that day and I went to sleep. 

The next day:

The next day, Ananya came to my room. Before I could tell her anything, she spoke.

“Akshay, I want to tell you something. You probably know this already, but it’s high time I say it. I love you Akshay! Yes, I do. Not today, not yesterday, but ever since the day we first met, I liked you. I was disappointed when I learnt that you had a girlfriend. But soon after, I just kept liking you. The help you rendered while I was sick, made me fall for you totally. I know this could be very complicated given your situation with Gayu, but then, like I said, you deserve better Akshay. You need to be happy and I don’t see you happy. Nearly 50 guys had proposed to me in my life so far. But this is the first time, I am proposing to someone. And you’re the one. So I request you to consider my proposal and accept it.” 

She finished it all in a single breath. 

I didn’t know how to react. They say when one door closes, another opens. Was this the opportunity that God has provided me with? But then, I closed my eyes and thought for 2 full minutes and replied.

“Ananya, thank you so much for that! You are such a sweet girl. You deserve to be loved. Purely. With all the heart. That is something that I cannot provide you with. My mind is pre-occupied with thoughts about Gaga. Even if we break-up completely, I don’t think that I can take her off my mind completely. That’s the beauty of one’s first love. You’re a wonderful girl and you deserve total love. I can’t give you that and I am not ready for that. Atleast yet. Even now, I think back and take inspiration from the words you had spoken to me. So let us just be the good friends that we are. We’ll see where it goes. Hope you understand.”

I did not feel ashamed to blatantly copy a dialogue from a Tamil film called VTV and use it in a real life situation. But yeah, Gautam Menon, the director of the film, helped me at that instance.  

“Thank you Akshay! I totally understand. I sorta expected the same answer from you. But couldn’t you have been more original? Even I had watched VTV” she winked.

We both had a hearty laugh. I knew I did the right thing and I felt happy. That day, I pored over some of my old conversations with Gaga on FB, Whatsapp and in the mails. I realized how much I had changed because of her. Though I did not have a cause for complaint, I felt that it was high time that I did the things I liked as was suggested by Ananya. I should not obsess over Gaga and limit our conversations to a minimum. This way, I won’t be affected much by her ignoring me or any fights that may happen. I felt a fresh breath of energy once I decided those things within myself.

The next 2 and a half months: 

The next 2 and half months, I decided to concentrate on the things I was good at. I decided to participate in many quiz competitions. I participated in all the contests that I could lay my eyes on – both online and offline. I dragged Ashwin along in all those contests and the girls came on to cheer us whenever time permitted. This way, we participated in a huge number of competitions and managed to win prizes in a significant number of them. I felt good about myself and felt very positive. During this time, I never spoke to Gaga, but only messaged her a few times. On all occasions, she promptly replied and it felt good. I realized that this was the person that I wanted to be and not the one who pleads for Gaga’s replies and gets disturbed by needless thoughts about her. This way, Term 3 ended very well and it was time for our Summer Internships. Strangely enough, I learnt that Gaga was also given a project in Delhi. I didn’t know how to react, but I realized that this presented me with an opportunity to patch up things with her. Feeling good, I took off to Delhi on March 31st, 2012.

April – May, 2012:

Summer Internships in Delhi. I stayed in IIT Delhi campus during these two months while Gaga was given an accommodation in HUL Guest House. The presence of Ashwin and the two girls had helped me a lot in overcoming thoughts about Gaga over the past two months. But now that they weren’t around and I was all alone, the thoughts about her came rushing back. I slipped back to my old ways and started messaging her daily. She replied, but not on a consistent basis. She was busy with her project, while my project was comparatively light. I asked her if we could meet some time. She agreed and we met for dinner one night at Connaught Place. But strangely enough, the dinner felt very uncomfortable as I felt that something was missing. The old feeling of proximity was certainly missing and I felt a little awkward. She felt comfortable enough and she kept talking to me about the people at her workplace and those at IIM B. I did not feel like returning the conversation and just kept listening. Once it was done, I paid the bill and bid her goodbye. 

I felt like a complete fool that night. I messaged her that night about how she had changed and that she did not feel like the old Gaga that I knew. As an afterthought, I added that I liked the new Gaga equally well. She replied with a ‘Thanks’ and a smiley. I wanted to meet her again but realized that it was going to be difficult as her project involved a lot of travelling. So I kept bombarding her with messages whenever her thought occurred to me. Here again, I did not realize that I was blowing a bubble that was about to burst. Soon enough, it burst. She once again sent a mail to me which more or less resembled the content of her previous such mail. Only change was that she was more critical of me this time around and her words were more stinging with lots of venom. 

I felt devastated on reading that mail. I felt gutted. I had never known more sadness in my life than what I felt that day. Even a break-up would have been easier to take, but this pained me to the core.  I had a couple of friends in IIT Delhi, but I knew exactly what their suggestion would be in such times: Alcohol. Alcohol is never a solution. It only complicates the problem at the cost of your health. So I called the only person who came to my mind who’d help me out at this time without suggesting alcohol as a solution. I called Ashwin. The good friend that he is, he immediately came down to Delhi the next day from Jaipur, where he was based for his project. He told me the same things as Ananya did six months back. He then took me out for a quiz that was being organized by the local Qutub Quiz Club. Quiz is probably the best distraction for a distraught mind. Atleast for me, it was. I felt much better after the quiz and we managed to finish third in the quiz. The previous day was the lowest I had ever been. I had never sought out someone like this to help me ever before. That’s when I decided to give it all a rest and carry on with my life. I resolved that I’d never call or message Gaga again and would only respond if she messaged or called. I had made similar resolutions in the past, only to break them soon. But this time, something told me that I was going to stick with it and not break it. 

The Second Year: 

I finished my project and came home to Coimbatore for a week. Every place I went in Coimbatore reminded me of her in one way or the other. The bout of nostalgia was overwhelming me. Yet, I somehow fought off the urge to call her or message her. I left for Ahmedabad at the end of the week. I felt that I was stronger in my resolve this time around and that I was not going to cave in. At the end of June, she sent me a message saying that she was in Coimbatore and that her project went well and that she might get an offer from the company. She then asked me how I was and how my project went. I replied with two words – “All fine”. With that she did not message me again for the next 10 days. And I did not feel the need to message her. Despite this avoidance, I was following her updates regularly on the social media. 

On July 10th, 2012, she messaged to a group in whatsapp that we were a part of, that she had got an offer from HUL and that she was accepting it. Though I felt happy for her, I did not like that she had to inform that in a group. That’s the most impersonal way of conveying news. I’d have heartily congratulated her had she messaged me personally. But this time, I just ignored as if I had not noticed it, while the others in the group congratulated her. I got my offer too from Amazon, but I did not feel like telling her. So I just left it. Once again, I decided to concentrate on my interests and I started participating in quizzes again. 

The month of August saw a twist as she messaged me. I replied in one or two words like usual. Realizing that she had hurt me a lot, she messaged me apologies. The tables were turned! Though I ignored a couple of them, I could not ignore the third message. This is the weakness with guys. They cannot say no to a girl. Especially if the girl pleads for something, no guy would say no to her. I was no different. I broke my resolution and messaged her saying that I accept her apology and that she need not worry and that everything was fine. She was overjoyed on seeing that and told me that she felt relieved now. The games men and women play, you see. 

Since then, it was kinda smooth sailing with her. We never spoke too much nor did we message a lot. I maintained a distance, not knowing if the relationship was still alive. All I knew was that she wasn’t my enemy now and I just liked the way things were without the need to prod her for a commitment that was non-existent in the first place, and that she was unwilling to give. Every now and then, I did see pics of her on Facebook and Kaushik did feature in a lot of them. I decided not to let it affect me. If Kaushik was the person she wanted in her life, so be it. Let me just fade away from her life like I already have. My only concern was that she deserved a good guy, even if it was not me. I felt proud of the way I had matured over the past few months to even come up with a thought like this.

With Ananya too, it was all fine as she realized how she acted when she was emotionally down. She thanked me profusely saying that I could have easily taken advantage of her emotional state of mind, but I did not. She complimented me saying that I acted like a real gentleman and that she was proud of me. She repeated the old dialogue saying that I deserved the best, whoever it may be. I felt good and the four of us were back to being the best buddies that we always were.

On the other hand, Gaga started messaging me very frequently. Perhaps, she was missing me! Or was she? I did not care for if she really wanted something with me, she’d talk to me. I was tired of being the initiator and getting hurt in the process. But I liked that she was giving me the attention that was absent over the past year. I did not wish to press it lest I spoil it. So, I let it be, as it was. Soon enough, 2012 came to an end and 5 trimesters were done. We were all in the final trimester and it’ll all be over in another 2 months. Placements happened and since I already got the offer from Amazon, I was pretty relaxed. The other 3 got placed well too and we celebrated the New Year in the campus with much grandeur. 

One gloomy winter morning in January 2013, I woke up with a start. I just had a nightmare. In that dream, Gaga was marrying some guy. I could not remember the face of the guy, but it certainly wasn’t me. That’s when the truth dawned on me that she could be married this year. Oh God! All along, I had only imagined her wedding with me, but now there was a strong possibility of that not happening and she marrying some other guy. Once again, my mind felt disturbed. How many times the mind gets disturbed this way when you are in love, I tell you! Never fall in love if you’re not prepared to handle these disturbances. 

I called Gaga. Surprisingly, she picked up. Excitedly she asked me where I got placed. That’s when I realized that I had not told her about the offer from Amazon. So I told her as though I had got the offer only recently. She was overjoyed for me. It felt like the day we spoke of our CAT scores. I felt happy and asked her what her plans were in the coming days. She told me that her course would end in a month, just like mine, and that she had two months time to kill at home before HUL called her for joining. I wanted to ask her what after that, but stopped short for I was not prepared for an answer that I did not want to hear. 

Soon enough, our courses were done and we all graduated. The Convocation Ceremony was an emotional one for the four of us as we became so close to each other. Our parents had come and they were proud of their wards. At the end of the day, we took a break and hung out in the campus. Just the four of us. One last time. We hugged each other and bade our goodbyes. We resolved that we’ll surely be in touch. Ofcourse, we’d be. But it won’t be the same. For one last time, they asked me about Gaga. I told them that by now, I was clear headed and am open to anything. I had also informed my parents that things did not quite work out well with her as I had thought it would. I also told them that there’s still a possibility of the two of us working things out, but the hopes were slim. They consoled me saying that whatever happens, happens for the best. Parents are your biggest source of strength. Never let them down.

After IIM:

The month following the convocation, I roamed around from place to place exploring new locales, meeting people, meeting friends and relatives, and spending time with myself. I felt refreshed and energized. It was time to join Amazon. They had asked me to report in Mumbai, while Gaga was joining HUL in Bangalore. We kept messaging on and off, but nothing concrete was happening at either end. 

On May 3rd, 2013, I got a call from her. I was in office. She told me that she wanted to talk to me. I told her that she could call me in the evening. At 9 PM that night, I got a call from her. She sounded anxious and a little disturbed.

“What’s it Gayu? What’s the matter?”

“Akshay, my parents have started talking about my marriage” she said in a shaky voice.


“Akshay, do you understand? They want me to get married soon.”

“So what Gayu? It’s about time, isn’t it? What’s the problem?”

“Idiot! Do you realize what I am talking here? Are you ready for it?”

“Me? Why should I be ready for it?”

“Akshay!! Stop kidding! I am serious! What about us Akshay? Us?”

“Oh, there’s ‘us’ is it? So you want to marry me do you? That’s a surprise!”

“AKSHAY!” she shouted. “Why are you doing this to me?”

“Why am I doing what Gayu? You were the one who asked for a break. You were the one who kept ignoring my calls. You were the one who did not reply to my messages. You were the one who spoke of acting in haste. You were the one who spoke of nice gentlemen at your institute. You were the one who did not share any good news with me. And now you want things to be as normal as they were? What am I supposed to do in this case Gayu? Tell me. Hurt Gayu. Hurt. I’ve been hurt enough. I am not sure if I want to go through that again.”

“O Akshay… please… this is not the time. I know I had not been very kind to you. But it was all because of the work pressure Akshay. You’re also from an IIM. You’d understand, don’t you? The work pressure drained me out emotionally. I was not able to handle it all well. I did not know where to take it all out. So I took it out on you. I vented my anger on you from time to time. You were my pillow. You were my punching bag. I knew you’d take it for me. I thought our relationship could take it all. I thought you’d understand Akshay. I did not want to divulge all this for I felt that you knew me and you’d understand. I am really sorry Akshay. I am really sorry.”

By now, she started crying. But I was not going to cave in. Would I?

“Gayu, but I thought you had your best buddies for all that. That loafer Kaushik and what was the other guy’s name? Oh yeah… Aditya. Why do you need me when you have them? They can be your punching bag. Spare me the trouble.”

Hearing that, she composed herself. “So is this what it’s all about? You suspect me? Fine! If you don’t want to  marry me, I don’t care. I can marry one of them or many others who proposed to me over the past 2 years. But before I leave, just tell me this. Think for a moment, look deep within yourself and tell me that you no longer love me. I’ll leave then.”

There was no need for thinking. My mind was full of her. I was head over heels in love with her, despite all that had happened over the past 2 years. Still, I thought for a moment. All that it mattered to me was that I loved her. As much as I did on the day she proposed to me or the day she said ‘I love you’ to me. Yet, I lied to her.  “No Gayu. I don’t love you anymore.”

It’s all ego, you see. Ego is the single most important factor in any relationship. My ego was very bloated now and it’s not going to calm down any sooner. Initially, it was all her ego and I was the one who was caving in and giving in. The moment my ego gained the stronghold, it was not going to give in easily. Successful relationships are the ones that negate the egos and overcome the part played by them. At some point of time, one person or the other has to give in and make some minor compromises and sacrifices. There are no perfect relationships. It’s all about how you overcome your ego and let love rule. 

With that last sentence, she cut the call. I felt bad, but did not cave in. Again ego, you see. 

The next four months, I immersed myself totally in work just to forget her. Yet it was an attempt in futility as her thoughts kept coming to me all day. I did feel bad about talking that way to her and wanted to call and apologize, but my ego did not allow me to. I do have a bloated ego, atleast in relationships, you see. 

Ashwin visited me during one of these four months. He was working with BCG in Bangalore and he had some assignment in Mumbai. He stayed with me for three days and that lifted my spirits a bit. As was the habit, we went to a quiz that happened in the city and managed to bag a prize. He asked me about Gaga and I told him that it was all over. He asked me why and I told him all that had happened. He was mad at me for what I did, but did not show it. He silently left after 3 days.

Back to the Present Day – October 28th, 2013:

I was totally gutted by the turn of events. Yes, I was the one who was responsible for all that, yet in a corner of my mind, I always had this feeling that Gayu would never leave. Now my mind was blaming me. Well, you asked for it. Suffer now! 

I suddenly felt the need to talk to Gayu and pour everything out. Was it too late for that? Was she engaged? I didn’t know. I opened the invitation and to my relief, found that the engagement was scheduled to happen the next day evening and the wedding was in a couple of days? Why so much hurry, I thought. But I did not bother. I definitely need to talk to Gayu once, before the engagement positively. I immediately booked the tickets for a flight early next morning and mailed a leave letter to my boss, who was kind enough to grant me the same since I had mentioned that it was an emergency.

I was reminded of the scene from ‘FRIENDS’ where Rachel rushes in the last minute to stop Ross’s wedding to Emily. But of late, it was I who was acting like Ross, denying the feelings I had for my Rachel.

October 29th, 2013 – Bangalore:

My flight was delayed by two hours and it landed at Bangalore at 2 PM. I wasted no time and took a taxi straight to the marriage hall, which was near Kormangala. I reached the marriage hall by 4 PM. I searched the whole place for Gayu but could not find her. 

Just when I was about to walk out, Ashwin walked in. What was he doing here? More surprise followed as the girls – Ananya and Sahana walked in. What the hell is all this? How did they know about this wedding? Had Gayu invited them too? They walked in unsurprised on seeing me. Did they know that I was coming? How come?

My mind was buzzing with all these questions when Gayu walked in. She was elegantly dressed in a beautiful saree. Boy, she looked beautiful! I could just stand there all day looking at her. She walked up to me.

“Thanks for coming to the ceremony Akshay! I knew you’d come. I hope you’re staying for the wedding too?”

“Gayu… Gayu… I need to talk to you.”

“About what?”

“Gayu… Gayu… I… I… I love you!”

At this, Ashwin and Gayu burst out laughing while the girls fumed.

“I told you…I told you that he won’t read it. Now that’s a bet won. Get us our Rs.500” Ashwin said looking at the girls and he hi-fived with Gayu. 

What was happening? I was perplexed!

Ananya angrily looked at me. “Idiot! Can’t you even read what’s written in the notice board? Can’t you even see the names written there? Idiot! You cost me 500 bucks and you owe me that.”

I looked at the huge Notice Board in the hall. In it was written in huge block letters “Kaushik weds Sharanya”. Oh God! How did I miss that? I was perhaps too busy searching for Gayu that I failed to notice it. So what does this mean? Gayu is not marrying Kaushik? Was this all a set-up to bring me here? And did these three have a part to play in it? I looked around. Gayu took out her tab and showed me a few pics. They were pics from a notebook. No a diary. Oh wait! These were pics from my diary! How come?

Here’s something about me that I did not tell you. I have the habit of writing a diary. I update it every day with some thoughts and events from that day. Over the past 2- 3 years, the diary had nothing but my thoughts about Gaga. Every single day. So I named it ’Gaga Chronicles’. I wanted to show it to her and gift it to her some day. Looks like it found its way pretty soon on its own. I wondered how, since none of them knew that I had one such diary.

That’s when Ashwin chipped in.

“When I came to Mumbai, I was distraught on hearing your story. I felt that I should do something to patch things up between you both. That’s when I saw that you were writing something in a diary before you went to sleep. The next morning, I flicked the diary from your cupboard without you noticing. I took it to office and went through a few pages. I realized how much you loved Gaga and the folly of all that you were doing because of your bloated ego. So I scanned the entire diary and brought it back without you noticing. Once back in Bangalore, I called the girls and informed them about all that you had done. We decided that we should send Gayu the scanned copy, so that she’d get to know what’s in your mind. We sent her the diary explaining how it’s all you ego that stood in the way of you both. She read it and she sought our help to get you out of your shackles. That’s when she informed us about this wedding of her friend Kaushik with his girlfriend. I got an idea then and we planned this whole set-up.”

“But what about the invitation?”

“One invitation card from this wedding and 30 mins of Photoshop work did the trick” Ashwin winked. 

“So you all knew, when I sent you the whatsapp message yesterday?”

“Ofcourse we knew!” they chorused. 

“Not only that, we did not even change the name of the girl’s parents in the invitation card. And you fell for it.” Sahana laughed. 

I opened the mail and found that indeed the girl’s parents' names were different. Whatta fool I had been!

“We checked with your apartment attendant this morning and he informed us that you were on your way to Bangalore. We knew then that you had fallen for it. We had a bet that you wouldn’t even notice the names on the Notice Board when you came in and we were right” Ashwin said.

They all laughed loudly. 

So it was all a well laid-out plan! How did I fall for it? Such an idiot I had been!

I then looked at Gaga. She looked at me.

“So you love me, huh? Do you want to marry me?” she asked me in a mocking voice. The tables were turned again. The ball was in her court now.

“Oh yes, Gayu! I do. I really do. With all my heart. I have been such an idiot to deny that. You saw it for yourself today” I said. “But wait!” I thought about my parents and her parents.

Reading my mind perfectly, she said “Both our parents know. They have been informed. It’s your decision that matters now.”

“Oh wow! I do want to marry you Gayu! I really love you! I really do!”

“But what if I reject you now?” she asked.

“Then I’ll marry Ananya here” I said and I winked at her.

At this, she mockingly slapped me and planted a peck on my cheek. I hugged her and kissed her on the forehead. The others cheered. I felt like Ross then. I should never let her go again. Never ever. 

Gaga … my dear Gaga… my dearest Gaga…

The climax was all so cinematic. Happens only in fiction. The reality could be a lot different. Yet, sometimes reality is more surprising than fiction.I wonder if the scene had been lifted straight from some Indian movie. Or perhaps from a Chetan Bhagat novel. Or from the silly story of some wannabe IIM writer, writing it sitting in some remote town called Kashipur.

Should be the third one…these silly wannabe IIM writers, I tell you…

-Ashwin Murali

Gaga Chronicles Part 3: Love lost – a villain on the scene

Hello to all my readers! First of all, a big apology from my side. When I posted the first two parts of the story 'Gaga Chronicles', I lied that I had finished the story. It's one thing to finish the story in your mind. It's a completely different thing to finish typing it down to the last word. Plus, I realized one thing. Writing a love story is far more difficult than perhaps loving itself. It's so difficult, I tell you. Kudos to all those writers who have crafted those timeless romantic masterpieces in the past. My respect for you has grown ten-fold.

Now to the exciting part. I am very happy to inform you all that I am a published author now. The book I co-wrote with authors from other IIMs titled 'Small Big Bang' was launched with much fanfare and is available for sale in Amazon and Ebay ( Do give it a read and mail me your comments about the book. 

All that done, here are the final two parts of the story 'Gaga Chronicles'. These are slightly lengthy, but I hope they keep you engrossed. I got a very good feedback for the first two parts. Since it's been quite a while (almost 6 months) since the first two parts were posted, you may need to refresh yourselves by going through the first two parts again before you start reading the third and the fourth parts. I have never written such a long story and I could have easily developed it into a novel, but I want to test the waters before I take the plunge.

As mentioned before, this is a work of pure fiction. For those of you who insist on reading beyond what's apparent, let me tell you, for any story, the author brings in elements from his/her own life and weaves a fiction around it. That's the reason why you might find some similarities between the characters in the story and those in real life. I spoke to a lot of people, a few couples and observed many of my friends from close quarters, before I could sketch these characters. A figment of my own imagination and an element of my own fantasies might find a place in the story. But that's that . Nothing more. It's not my story. If something so exciting ever happens in my life, I'll definitely write about it someday. But that's for another day. This is today. Hope you like the final two parts of the story. If you do, I am happy. If you don't, I am sorry.Like I said, I'm still an amateur and I'll try to improve the next time around. Happy reading!!

-Ashwin Murali

This is Part 3 of the story 'Gaga Chronicles'. To read Part 1, click here. To read Part 2, click here. To read Part 4, click here.
Disclaimer: This is a work of pure fiction. All the characters and the sequences are a figment of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to any person dead or alive is purely coincidental.

June 15th, 2011:

We were done with the Hell Week at IIM-A. The first week is probably the most demanding week in the course in all IIMs and is called the Hell Week. People hardly get a couple of hours of sleep every day during the Hell Week. The week totally drained me out. All my enthusiasm and energy was sapped during that week. The worst part was that I could not talk to Gaga even once during that week. We were only able to exchange wishes through Whatsapp a couple of times. Things lighten up a bit, post the Hell Week. So, I relaxed a bit and called her. Little did I know or realize that her Hell Week had just started in IIM-B. She did not pick up my call. This was not new to me. She had ignored my calls before. But this time, it pained me a little. No. A lot. During the previous instances when she ignored my call, I knew I’d be seeing her anyway, the next day. But that was not the case now. I tried calling her once more and again there was no response. I then texted her, briefly explaining my week, and asked if everything was fine with her and asked her to call me when she got free. We had a couple of days off before normal classes resumed. All this happened on the first day of the two days off. I spent almost the entire day looking at the Whatsapp screen hoping for a reply. Her header said “last seen at 06:03”. I then understood that she was busy with some work and had not checked her Whatsapp. Just to be on the safer side, I sent the same message via normal SMS. This way, I knew she would definitely see my message, even if she is not able to check Whatsapp due to some net problem. 

In the evening, I was to meet Ashwin and the two girls. Though we befriended each other through Facebook and Whatsapp, we hardly got the time to interact properly as the Hell Week kept us busy all the time. So we decided to meet in the evening.

This was our first real interaction. We introduced ourselves properly. I knew Ashwin well and he knew me. He was my school mate for 12 years. He was a star quizzer and a shared interest in quizzing brought us together. We were quiz partners at school and we made a name for ourselves in many city-level quizzes. We were good friends then. Once we finished school, Ashwin went on to do Engineering from a top college in Chennai, while I was in Coimbatore. This moved us apart and slowly, we lost touch over time. After graduating, I learnt from another friend that he went to work with a top MNC firm in Mumbai. We befriended each other when Facebook came into prominence. I got to know that he too made it to IIM-A after 3 unsuccessful attempts. He had posted an update on Facebook. Since then, we got back in touch with each other and we knew for sure that we were going to be those old buddies again, once in IIM-A. Sure enough, we were. 

One of the girls was Ananya Suresh. She had finished her Engineering a year back and was working in one of those regular IT companies. Hers seemed to be the usual story of IT employees – routine job, feel bored, feel the need to get out of job, look at GRE, look at CAT, settle for CAT, give CAT, get interview calls, lie to the panel that you’re looking to start your own company in the future, convince them, clear the interview and get into an IIM. What really struck me about her were her beautiful eyes. They seemed to speak volumes. I got to admit here that I thought she looked really beautiful the moment I saw her. For a brief fleeting moment, I forgot that I had Gaga ;-)

The other girl was Sahana Shankar. She was a Commerce graduate for a change. She worked in a small firm for 2 years, before clearing CAT. But she already seemed to be pretty popular in the campus, thanks to her singing career. She was a participant in a very famous Reality Singing Programme for the past 2 years and she finished as a finalist last year. So she was pretty popular with the followers of the programme. I wasn’t one of them and had to be told all this. But she struck me in the way she greeted us and spoke to us all with the ease and comfort of long-time friends. I liked that about her. 

During our introduction and interaction, I constantly kept looking at the phone, hoping for a reply from Gaga. That gave me away. 

Sahana popped up the question. 

“Akshay, can I ask you something?”


“Do you have a girlfriend?”

I was surprised by the question. I didn’t know what to say. The other two listened in keenly. My face gave me away as I started blushing. 

“Awwww…!” they all chorused

I decided to be honest with them. If they were going to be my friends here for the next couple of years, I surely can’t hide it from them. I told them all about Gaga.

As soon as I finished my story, Ananya gave a dejected look.

“Vada Poche!” she muttered under her breath, but I could hear it.

(Vada Poche is a colloquial expression in Tamil that you use when you miss a great opportunity)

“What?” I asked her.

“Nothing! Nice story. Hmmmm!"

“What was that?”

“Nothing! I just mentally prepared a list of good-looking guys here who I could … you know… have a chance… You were on top of that list, but, sigh! There seems to be some truth in the statement ‘All the good ones are taken!’”

“Whoa!” I thought to myself. The other two laughed.

She joined in the laughter. “Akshay, you fell for that, didn’t you? Ha ha ha!”

I smiled at her.

“Don’t worry! I won’t hit on you. Infact, it’s the guys here who are hitting on me. Infact, I have already got 5 proposals.” She beamed.

“Not a surprise at all, considering how beautiful you look”, I blurted out.

“Aww… thank you!” she smiled.

“Wait a minute! Ananya, IIM-A, good-looking, 5 proposals within a week. Doesn’t this remind you of a bestseller book from the ‘most famous’ author in the country?” Ashwin chipped in.

“Ha ha! Very funny! I know people would bring up that ‘2 States’ for sure. Of all the names he could have chosen, why did he have to name that character ‘Ananya’? I’m mad at him for that. You know what? Everyone in my family teased me about it before I came here. My dad suggested that he wouldn’t mind a Krish Malhotra for a son-in-law, but asked me to look for a Krishna Manohar, positively.”

Sahana, who was observing us, suddenly joined in.

“Would he be ok with an Ashwin Ram?” she winked.

Ashwin was taken by surprise. “Hey... Sahana!”

“I was simply helping you. I have been observing you for some time and you simply could not take your eyes off her” Sahana remarked smilingly.

“No, it was Akshay who said that she looked beautiful and I was just seeing if he was right”

“Ok. With that, I’ll take your name as No.6” Ananya winked.

“NOOOO…!” Ashwin shouted.

We all laughed heartily.

I liked these people. We gelled well together.

The next day:

 Meeting the gang eased me a bit and I slept without bothering myself about Gaga’s impending reply. The next day morning, the familiar feeling of pain returned. It’s strange that in love, it’s the early mornings that your heart pounds the most. All feelings of pain prop up then. 

As soon as I got off from the bed, I looked at my phone for any message from her. Nothing. Then I opened whatsapp. Again nothing. But then something else caught my eye. The text near her name read “last seen at 07:03 AM”. It was 7:30 then. 

What the heck! 

The fact that she was last seen at 7:03 proved that she would have read my message. Why didn’t she reply then? This really troubled me and I sat staring at that screen for about 20 minutes. I could not bear it and I typed out a message to her asking why she hasn’t replied to my message. I could sense that I wasn’t my normal self. I was slipping back to the pre-CAT days when I used to feel such pain when she didn’t reply to my messages.

I finished my breakfast and switched on the net again. The phone notified me about a whatsapp message from Gaga. The feeling of joy I felt then was unimaginable. Hurriedly, I opened the message. She had apologized for taking so long to reply and in a couple of lines, explained that she was going through hell and it was taking a toll on her. I understood that she was struggling through the hell week and told her that it’ll all be ok once the week was done. Saying so, I wished her and asked her to take care. She thanked me and logged off. 

Even though it was only a small whatsapp conversation, it elated me and provided me with enough energy to stay fresh for the rest of the day. It’s funny to note the things love can do to you :P

Feeling energetic, I teamed up with Ashwin and we participated in a Quiz in the afternoon that the Quiz Club had organized for the new batch. It was a throwback to our school days and we totally enjoyed each other’s company. We complemented each other well and we rocked the quiz. We made it to the on-stage finals and our team won the quiz by a thumping margin. Our batchmates in the audience cheered us during the finals. It was like in our school days. Our victory made us popular in our batch and the two girls were elated that we won. Finally, I realized that I had discovered something that would keep me engaged during my two years at the institute. We were directly recruited into the Quiz Club based on our performance in that quiz. 

I messaged Gaga the news about the quiz in the evening and surprisingly, she replied immediately saying how proud she was of me. I could not ask for anything more. I thanked her and messaged an ‘I love you’ to her and went to sleep peacefully. 

A week later:

Classes had begun and we all settled in. To our surprise, all four of us were put in the same section. We could not ask for more and our bond only strengthened with this arrangement. Gaga was done with her hell week at IIM-B and she called me after that. We spoke for some 20 minutes about our experiences before she had to cut short the call for some work had propped up. I was disappointed that we could not talk more, but realized that’s how things are going to be. We exchanged ‘good morning’ and ‘good night’ wishes everyday in whatsapp and that kept me going. I sent her some whatsapp messages but got no reply. Though it worried me, I convinced myself that it was alright. 

July 10th, 2011:

By now things were more or less settled for everyone. I did manage to talk to Gaga a couple of times, but on both instances the conversation was brief and lasted not more than 10 minutes. I learnt that she had been selected for their Marketing Club and I felt happy for her. 

It did strike me that day during the phone call with her that she sounded disinterested. I asked her why and she curtly replied that it was nothing. This was the first time that some alarm bell struck in a corner of my mind. The fears that I had with respect to the two of us before we left Coimbatore, made a sudden reappearance. I felt dejected that day. But I thought about July 20th. Her birthday. I wanted to surprise her with a gift for her birthday. So I logged on to Flipkart and chose a nice book for her as a gift. I did not have her address, but I got the address of a batchmate’s sister who was studying in IIM-B and shipped it to that address with Gaga’s name. I felt that she would like the gift.

July 20th, 2011:

I called Gaga at midnight to wish her. She was happy that I wished her promptly. There were noises from her end that suggested that a cake cutting was on. That evening, she called me. She was overjoyed that I had gifted her something. It was planned to get the gift delivered to her on that day and she was touched by the gesture. I felt very happy that she was happy and we chatted for about an hour. But a certain thing she mentioned during our conversation worried me. She repeatedly kept mentioning the names of two boys – Kaushik and Aditya. She informed me that they were also from Tamilnadu and that they had been very helpful to her over the past month. This totally irked me. 

A sure-shot way for any girl to annoy a boyfriend is to talk highly of other boys to him. I forgot what happened in the rest of the call, but I only remember telling her that I have some work and cutting the call. That night, I messaged her saying sorry that I had to cut the call short. She was fine and she told me about the cake cutting she had. I asked her to upload some pics in Facebook. She said she would. Strangely enough, I logged on to Facebook and found that there were no updates or no new pics in her profile ever since she left Coimbatore. This was very strange for a girl who was very active on Facebook. 

August 10th, 2011:

By now, our mid-terms for the first trimester was done and there was a gang meet. Since we were in the same section, the four of us never missed any opportunity to team up as a group for any group work, assignment or project. And most of the meetings would happen in my room or Ashwin’s room. The last few days were very taxing and we were glad that mid-terms were done. My conversation with Gaga was increasingly getting confined to whatsapp messages alone as our erratic schedules prevented us from calling each other. She did not seem to mind for she was happy with this arrangement. But it bothered me that I could not talk to her.

The past few days, I had insisted on a pic upload from her side as I had not seen her ever since we left Coimbatore. Video-calling was not an option as she did not like it. So I was eagerly looking forward to some photo updates on Facebook. It so happened, that particular day, some batch-mate of hers had uploaded a group pic in which she was present. She was tagged initially, but she quickly untagged herself. I simply happened to be on FB then and I caught that pic when she was tagged. She was standing in front of a restaurant with 6 guys and 3 girls from her batch who were a part of the Marketing Club along with her. She looked elegant and beautiful as ever. I kept admiring her, when the gang walked in. They caught me looking at her pic and started teasing me. The plan that day was to order pizza and watch a movie in my room. Since my love became a topic of discussion, everyone was asked to talk about their love/crush.

Ashwin had a funny story to tell. He spoke of how he had a crush on a junior named Srinidhi from our school and how he found her on Facebook while he was in Mumbai, befriended her on FB and started chatting with her. I remembered that girl Srinidhi. She was Shwetha’s classmate. His story reminded me of Shwetha. I too found her on FB while in Kakinada, but my work prevented me from having any chats with her. I was drawn in by Ashwin’s story.

“You started chatting. It went well for a couple of months. Then what happened?” I asked Ashwin.

He gave a sheepish smile and ignored me.

I pressed again. The girls joined in too.

“You know, it was her birthday and I wished her. Out of nowhere, she thanked me with the words ‘Thank you Anna’. That was it.”

We all burst out laughing. ‘Anna’ is a respectful term in Tamil, used to address an elder brother.

“You didn’t know this while you were chatting with her for 2 months?” I asked.

“No. She only addressed me as Ashwin in all those chats. But she made it clear to me in that reply. Post that, whenever we chatted, she addressed me as ‘Anna’. And thus ended my love story.”

Again we all laughed. 

Ananya had a familiar tale of multiple proposals to tell. Her count in the institute now stood at 16. I asked her the total count in her life so far.

“Must be 37 or 38” she quipped. We again started laughing. This laughter ended only when Sahana told her story.

She had a colleague who worked with her in the small firm that she worked. He was a guy who she admired greatly for his quick wit and intelligence. She liked him but did not show. He too liked her and he tried to express it in every discreet way possible. Though Sahana understood what he was trying to tell her, she thwarted all his attempts. She was not sure if she could give a commitment to him amidst her singing career and her MBA ambitions. So she maintained status quo and came to Ahmedabad.

“I think he still likes me a lot and cares for me, but am not sure about myself” she said.

It was clear from the tone of her voice that she liked him and missed him.

“What’s his name?” I asked.

“Sathya. Sathya Prakash”

Her story kinda made us all a little sad. To change the mood, I showed them Gaga’s pic in FB and also told them how I was awaiting her promised pic update in FB. 

With this they started teasing me and we enjoyed dinner with a nice movie.

August 15th, 2011:

I remember everything about that day. We had Independence Day celebrations in the institute in the morning in which my batchmates performed some skits, sang a few songs and Ashwin gave a small speech. It was an enjoyable day till the evening. 

In the evening, I casually opened Facebook and was taken aback when I saw a pic of Gayu. She was standing in the centre of the pic, elegantly dressed and on either side of her, stood a guy. The guys were neatly dressed and they had Gayu stand in between them. They were tagged in the pic as Kaushik Ravindran and Aditya Ramnath.

On any normal day, I would have appreciated that pic. But that day, it pained me. It pained me to see her with two strange guys who she had spoken about. She did look well in the pic but I could not appreciate her beauty. All I could notice in that pic were the two guys. The two guys who now looked like villains to me. Villains who would take Gaga away from me. I would realize later that it was nothing but plain jealousy on my part. 

Silently, I logged off FB and sat in my bed with phone. I opened whatsapp. There was already a message from Gaga.

“Hi Akshay, I have finally uploaded a pic in FB. Take a look. Hope you like it. I am with my friends Kaushik and Aditya in that pic.”

I was envious and I was angry. In that same state of mind, I began to type a message.

It is said that you should never reply to anyone when you are angry. I was to realize this later. But that day, I kinda lost my sense and I typed out a message.

“Yeah, saw the pic Gayu. I didn’t like it. You look bad in that pic. You don’t look your usual elegant self in that pic.”

That was it. That was the tipping point. One thing I realized later, that I felt I should remember for the rest of my life, is that never ever talk ill of a girl’s looks. Never. If you don’t like the way she looked, it’s best not to say anything. Never blurt out your thoughts as to what you feel about their looks. They will not like it. They will remember it for the rest of their lives. Anything good you say might be forgotten, but these things will be remembered forever.

I realized my mistake only when I did not receive a single reply for the next 2 hours. By the time I regained my senses, it was too late. The damage had been done.

I tried calling her, but she would not pick up my call. I sent about half a dozen apology messages to her. It was only after the sixth apology message that I got a reply.

“It’s alright. Now I have work. Good night!”

Having been with Gaga for over a year now, I had learnt to sense the tone from her messages and interpret them. What her message actually meant was “What you’ve said is not alright. You won’t be forgiven. Now leave me alone.”

I was clearly devastated and could not sleep that night. It turned out to be a horrible day.  

September 15th, 2011 and the week that followed:

Our first trimester exams had ended and we had four days off before the next trimester began. Since the day of the pic fiasco, the frequency of messages from Gayu reduced a lot. In this one month, we spoke to each other only once and that was only because of my repeated insistence. She sounded as though she was a stranger to me in that call. I apologized to her once again and she told me that she had forgotten all about it. She wished me all the best for my exams and told me that she had her exams coming too and she ended the call. Though I kept denying it to myself, it was clear that she was moving away from me. 

I was totally shaken by Gaga’s indifference. She kept ignoring my messages. The worst way a girl can punish a boy is by ignoring him. Boys can never take it. Even a negative reply is okay, but ignoring is something that kills you. I took solace in the gang whenever I felt down, which was like always over the past month. 

I chose not to go home for the term break for I felt 4 days were too less for me. Ananya stayed behind too, while the other two left for Delhi to their respective relatives’ places. 

It so happened that Ananya fell terribly sick on the first day off. Since there was no one around, I took her to the institute hospital where she was admitted immediately. Most of the students had left the campus for the break and only a handful was present. I felt that I should not leave her alone in the hospital and so I stayed by her side. She was on drips and medication. I took it upon myself to get her food and give her company by talking to her, whenever she was awake. She was sedated at other times. I informed her parents too, who were very worried and promised to come immediately. I asked them to relax for now for she seemed to get better. It was a viral infection of some kind and a dosage of antibiotics cured her. She was there in the hospital for 3 days and I stayed by her side for all the 3 days. 

It was unlike me to do some help of that sort. I could have just visited her from time to time and left the hospital at other times. But I did not do that. I did not know why but I felt that I would have done the same for any person in that position. Not just Ananya.

She was discharged on the fourth day and her parents also came that day. They thanked me profusely for the help and since she was still recuperating, I took them around the campus and got them a guest accommodation. They spoke to me for long about so many things and I could tell that this was not a normal conversation that any parent would have with a friend of their ward. 

By the fifth day, everyone returned and our second trimester started. Ananya recovered well enough and by now, Sahana was there to take care of her and bring her to the classes. She was completely normal within a week. 

At the end of the week, Ananya invited me to her room. I went. I thought that the gang would be there, but was surprised that she had invited only me.

“Hello Akshay, I can read your mind. You’re wondering where the others are. Am I right?”


“They are not coming for I did not call them. I only called you.”

“Oh, I see. Anything special? Good to see you hale and healthy again.”

“Thanks. That would not have been possible if not for you. I wanted to thank you personally for what you did. I’m totally indebted to you for the invaluable help you rendered Akshay. I don’t know if I would have survived if not for you.”

Saying so, she wept. She then came near me and hugged me. I felt strange. What am I supposed to do in such a situation? She required a shoulder to cry on and I lent her that. 

“Hey, it’s alright Ananya. You’re fine now. So don’t worry about it”, saying so I patted her on the back and made her sit. 

I could sense that she was growing on me and growing fond of me. I didn’t want that. So I bid her goodbye, asked her to take care and left the place.

October 2nd, 2011:

I was on a call.

“Hello Gaga. Do you remember me?”

“Hellooo Akshay! Ofcourse, how can I forget you? Even today morning, I was thinking about you.”

“No calls. No messages. No whatsapp. No replies. What’s this Gayu?”

“I know, I know. I am sorry. Life was very hectic.”

“I understand that you had exams and I did not bother you then. But the week after that? How many times I messaged you and called you? Neither did you pick my calls nor did you reply to my messages. I was devastated. If you are angry with me for something, I apologize. Please tell me if you are upset with me for something. We’ll talk about it and we can fight it out. But please... please don’t ignore me Gayu.”

“I am sorry Akshay. I understand that I may have hurt you. I wanted some time for myself and so I decided to turn off whatsapp for a week.”

I sensed the change in her tone. She hates complaints/criticism about her. So I changed the topic and told her about Ananya and how she got sick and all. While Gayu appreciated my timely help, she did not sound happy about me staying by Ananya’s side for 3 days. Was she jealous? Probably. So I obviously did not tell her about how Ananya hugged me in her room.

The call lasted for 20 minutes before she had to go. I said the customary “I love you” to her. She replied with a ‘Thanks!’

Irritated as I was, I felt better talking to her after nearly a month.

October 28th, 2011:

Our one year anniversary. One year since she confessed about her feelings for me. One year since we started seeing each other.

I was hoping that she remembered and called me to wish. I, ofcourse remembered every single thing that happened that day, a year ago. These past 25 days since her last phone call were very very hectic with so many things happening at the institute both on the academic, as well as on the non-academic fronts. So I could not get time to call her, not that she ever bothered. I sent her a few whatsapp messages. As usual, I did not receive any replies. It used to frustrate me whenever I see the title next to her name saying “last seen at xx hours”. If the time happened to be after the time I had posted my message, and if I don’t get a reply, the frustration simply doubled. One suggestion I wanted to give the developers of whatsapp was to remove this ‘last seen at’ feature (which they eventually did 2 years later).

I waited to see if she would call. It was 8 PM and I had received no call till then. So I called her praying that she should pick up. Luckily, she did. 

“Hai Akshay, anything important? Tell me quickly. I am in a hurry.”

“Oh…it’s nothing. I just wanted to wish you for our…our…you know… our one year anniversary.”

“Oh… is it? I didn’t know. Thanks Akshay. Wish you the same.”

“Thanks Gaga.”

“Ok, listen. I need to go now. I am going out for dinner. I am in a hurry. Kaushik is waiting for me. I’ll catch you later. Bye”


That last sentence. The mention of the name Kaushik! It totally ruined my day. I was frustrated beyond my limits. 

I logged on to Facebook and I went to her friends list. There I found his name. I clicked on his profile. He looked an ordinary guy with ordinary looks and a very typical IT profile in which he had worked with an IT company for 3 years before coming to IIM-B. Despite his decent profile, he looked a complete loafer to me. The loafer who would take Gaga away from me.  I could not sleep that night. Here I was, lying lonely and thinking about her, while she was celebrating our anniversary with my villain. Sort of stories that you normally get to see only in the movies.  (Continued in Part 4 ...)

To read Part 4, click here.