Written: April 2016
“Wake up Sana! It is seven already,” cooed an all too familiar voice in her ear. She turned around to her side and saw Varun near her study table. She and Varun had grown up together. They had known each other for the past fifteen years, and now at the age of twenty, they were best of friends.
The sun was shining through her hair, and it lit up her whole room. Varun turned around and flashed her a smile, which she gladly returned. Sana had grown up as an introvert; not shy, just introverted; and Varun was her only friend. This seemed to be the case with him too. Probably in their loneliness, they had found company.
“Good Morning sleepyhead! I knew you wouldn’t wake up without me. Go get ready for college, I will be waiting outside,” said Varun all in one breath.
It often surprised Sana how quickly Varun could get ready for anything she said, or how he knew exactly what to say when. He was one of those people who could easily make someone’s day just by a few words. He seemed like an ideal guy, but not once had Sana harboured any romantic feelings towards him.
Rushing through her daily routine, Sana got ready in three-quarters of an hour and met Varun in her kitchen. Varun could do a lot of things, but cooking was not one of them. Sana quickly made some breakfast and they both went off to college.
The way whizzed by and soon it was the lunch break. Sana sat at her usual spot with Varun across her. They were merrily chatting, when Roshni, Sana’s nemesis tapped her shoulder.
“Nice shirt honey. Who did you steal it from? Ramu chacha’s daughter?” Roshni smirked making a reference to the school’s gardener. All eyes turned to them, and Sana could see some people giving her a condescending smile.
“Excuse me?” Sana felt her blood boil. It was definitely not only this moment that made her angry. It was all built up.
“No, rather you excuse me. I need to puke after looking at you.” She giggled and walked towards her table, leaving behind another trail of laughter in the canteen.
Sana saw red and wanted to hurt her. She wanted Roshni to feel the pain and embarrassment she felt. Her anger had no limit. She wanted to yell at everyone for laughing at her. She wanted them to stop humiliating her, but she did nothing. She hung her head and exhaled deeply. Only when Varun spoke did she look up.
“Stab her,” Varun whispered with venom in his voice.
“What? That’s insane. I cannot.”
“You are going to let her go after what she did to you for all these times?”
“No, but stabbing is a bit too wild and–” She started but was swiftly interrupted.
“Sana, stab her or else I will.”
Sana feared Varun when he got into such moods. She feared that he could actually do what he spoke. She did not want to hurt Roshni, even though she was extremely humiliated. So, she decided against it. She started opposing Varun when he spoke up again.
“Fine. I know you will not stab her. Take this and spill it over her. Hurt her Sana, hurt her.” Varun said pointing towards a bowl of hot soup in front of him. It was hot, extremely hot and would leave burn marks, but Sana decided to do it anyway.
She huffed, picked up the bowl and walked towards Roshni’s table. Pulling Roshni out of her chair, Sana turned her around. All she saw was red. In her overwhelmed state of anger, she threw the hot soup all over Roshni. Roshni shrieked and just like before all pairs of eyes turned to Sana and Roshni.
Sana herself was shocked at what she had done and turned to look at Varun. To her disappointment, he was nowhere to be seen. She scanned the whole canteen looking for him, but all she could see were eyes filled with a) astonishment, b) fear and c) surprise; and one of them belonged to Varun.
Suddenly out of nowhere, she saw a mop of brown hair leaving the canteen. Without thinking twice, she ran out of the door hoping to chase the brown haired boy and talk to him. She ran through the corridors, passed all the classrooms and finally found him.
“Varun. I did it. Where were you?” Sana spoke up while catching up with her breath.
“I saw what you did there. And I am quite proud of you Sana. It definitely took some guts didn’t it?” Varun questioned with a smirk playing on his lips.
“You bet. But Varun, I feel so guilty. After I threw the soup on her, I felt a pang of pain in my chest. It felt like it was a big mistake, I felt like I over reacted and–” Sana had more coming, but was interrupted by Varun.
“Sana.” Varun started as he came closer and put his arms on her shoulders. His arms seemed surprisingly weightless. “What you did is completely justified. She deserved it. What did she think she would get out of insulting you? She has been bullying you for two years now, Sana. Some action had to be taken.”
Sana thought Varun’s words to be wise and left the matter at that. She knew that the faculty would take no action since they never bothered about the students’ personal matters. For once, Sana was satisfied with it that way.
“Let’s go for a ride,” Varun spoke up breaking her train of thoughts.
“Right now?” Sana questioned
“No. Let’s wait for Christmas.” Varun rolled his eyes and started walking towards the student parking.
“You do realise that I don’t have my car, but my two wheeler right?”
“Dammit!” He cursed under his breath and turned around. “How about tomorrow then?”
“Okay.” Sana sighed out loud. She had to give in to his request. After all, he was the only person she hung out with.
They waited for the sun to rise, and were off for a road trip. They were merrily travelling singing along the songs and stopping at intervals to click pictures. It was the most at peace Sana had felt in a while. Driving was one thing she loved aside art, and after such a long drive and peace, she was ready to deal with whatever came her way.
“Drive faster,” Varun said over the loud voice of Brendon Urie playing on the radio.
“I am driving at 140 kilometres per hour Varun! I can’t drive faster! We will die!” Sana yelled back.
“Then let that happen.” He replied with no tone of sarcasm in his voice. She was terrified of this Varun.
Sana was horrified. She couldn’t do this, but she had to. However crazy her friend was, she could not let him go. She pressed down the accelerator and sped up the car. The odometer showed 145, then 150, 160, 170 and suddenly Sana’s fear got its best. She closed her eyes and not even a moment later she heard loud barks of dogs. She saw a kennel of dogs ahead. She pressed the brake harder than what she pressed the accelerator. The car made a weird sound and came to a halt after covering a rough distance of 100 meters.
With her heart beating fast, probably at the speed at which the car was probably speeding, she tried to calm herself down. Her breaths were contracted and short, her ears ringing and her mouth dry. She was scared out of her wits. She looked up from the steering wheel where her head had banged previously. She was bleeding, but not profusely- something she was glad about. She looked towards Varun to find that he was no more in the car.
He possibly could not have escaped when the car came to a halt. Sana would have heard the car door, yet she could not stop questioning herself. If not before, at least now she was utterly terrified. She would not think where Varun probably had gone. No noise, no clue, nothing. Sana was frightened and in a hazy state of mind she decided to travel back home.
An hour or so later, Sana reached home. She was glad to see her mother on the couch reading the daily newspaper. She took a long breath and calmed herself down.
“Mum, Varun is missing. I can’t find him –”
“Sana! What’s wrong with your forehead? Why have you tied that thing around it what happened?” Her mum questioned as if she hadn’t heard a thing Sana said.
“Mum. It’s okay. I am fine. Just a little bruise. But I can’t find Varun! I don’t know where he went!” Sana replied a little agitated.
“Varun? Varun who?” Wondered Sana’s mother out loud.
“Mum! Varun! Varun Arora. My best friend since I was five!”
“Sana, what is this prank now? What are you talking about? Who are you talking about?”
“Mother! What is wrong with you? This is no prank. My best friend is missing! Can you please try and understand?” Sana huffed with annoyance.
A look of realisation passed over Seema’s face. Seema realised what and exactly who her daughter was taking about. She feared what she spoke, but knew she had to do it. She didn’t know how to let it out, but she calmed herself down and finally spoke up.
“Sana. Varun is not a real person, and also there is something we haven’t told you–”
“Mum! How can you be so inconsiderate! Of course, he is a real person. You think I would speak to someone who did not exist? You think I would share my darkest secrets with someone who did not exist? How can you mum? I know you do not have very good feelings about him, but this? This is just unbelievable. I cannot believe you. You just robbed me of my best friend, ma! I hate you. Absolutely, utterly and overwhelmingly. Hate you!” Sana started walking towards her room, a million thoughts ablaze in her mind. How could her mother be so inconsiderate to make it seem like Varun did not exist at all? What was wrong with her mother? Was she mentally unstable? Or was she—
“Sana. Varun is a figment of your imagination. He is not real. We believed you when you said he was your friend when you were six. You were little. But now? Have you not grown out of it? Have you not realised so many years later that he is just you imaginary friend? That he does not exist?” Her mother countered, her voice rising with each progressive sentence.
“Ma! This is enough now. You are crossing your line–”
“With Varun? And how do you know he is real? Do you remember touching him? Do you remember him touching anything? Do you remember him eating anything? Why was a bowl of breakfast always full when you served for two? Why did he never eat? Why could you not touch him? How was he always so ready to do whatever you wanted? Have you never thought Sana?”
Her mother’s words made Sana think. The knobs in her head churned for a while longer. How could she have been so naïve? How did she not realise this? Sana sat down right where she was standing. The reality hit her hard and made her vision hazy. She could not think straight she closed her eyes and let her tears flow free.
She felt her mother’s arms envelop her. Her mother muttering phrases to her which she could not comprehend anymore. She let herself be taken care of, she let her mother continue to speak, as she continued to cry. She had never, ever thought she would have been left alone.
Had she succumbed to loneliness so much that she had to imagine people to surround her? Was she really so incapable to meet the real world? As she questioned herself, one question stuck out; if not Varun, then who had forced her to do things she would not have done in the right state of mind? Who forced her to harm Roshni? Who forced her to accelerate to a speed she could not control? Rather, was force really used on Sana?
A year had passed since that incident and a drastic change had happened in Sana’s life now. She had craved to know the secret her mother had mentioned before. After a huge struggle and a long wait, she finally faced the truth of her life. She was in her psychiatrist’s room. She was asked to visit very often initially, but gradually it was only once in a while that Sana needed to come here now. Her psychiatrist slowly went into Sana’s story and this is what she learnt.
She learnt that she was schizophrenic. She learnt that she lived, she studied and she had grown up in an environment which was mainly created for people with mental inabilities. She, in reality, had no parents. No siblings; and no friends either. She wasn’t at peace at first but gradually came to a point where she accepted what she heard. She believed what she was told. And with this new found acceptance, she started growing out of schizophrenia.
She had had a hard day, and soon dozed off with her innumerable memories, and multiple thoughts. A small smile played on her lips as she realised that soon she would be out into the real world. She really had sweet dreams that night.
It was the first thought that came to her as she woke up. He was gone. And, soon, this bedroom, the house in whose eastern corner it sat, and the tiny garden outside with its gnarled old red hibiscus and the half-grown mango tree they had planted together, all those would be gone as well. It was the strangest feeling ever.
She was scared that he was gone, and terrified that she would never see him again.
A little late to the party, but hopefully you’ve liked it. This story was written for the WRITE INDIA CONTEST held last year. I will be posting my older stories first, and then moving on to the current ones. Please do vote and comment to show your support!
For my longer works, please visit Wattpad. My user is “s_huddar”.
Thank you! Hope you have a good day! 🙂