The crowd was cheering louder and louder. Aarav was on the stage, the last participant of the singing event held by Radio Mirchi. A tall and handsome man, he made the girls in the crowd go crazy. . His looks were an icing on the cake as his voice was enough to make anyone go weak in the knees. It seemed that all the youngsters studying anywhere across NCR had turned up to witness the musical event and were in fully charged mode. Around 200 students were from Aarav’s college to support and cheer for him. His best friends – Rishaan, Kiara and Diya seemed to be the most excited ones as they constantly prayed for Aarav’s victory.
Aarav started singing and everything fell ilent. His mesmerising voice was magical and the crowd felt hypnotised upon hearing his voice. They started clapping slowly to the rhythm of the song. Flying kisses were being blown into the air for Aarav. He was focussing on his song but could not conceal the pink blush on his face at the reaction of his female supporters. He ended the song on a high note which pleasantly surprised everybody. The beautiful ending made jaws drop down in amazement. The judges gave him a standing ovation. The silence of the crowd broke with applause. All were cheering for the star of the night.
“Aarav! Aarav! Aarav!”
“Once more, Once more, Once more!”
Such phrases were being repeated loudly. Aarav was the deemed winner, yet he was calm till the results were officially announced.
The results were announced and yes, Aarav bagged the first prize. He won a cash prize of Rs. 25,000 and a holiday at Goa for four people for six days and seven nights. Like a well cultured music student, Aarav touched the feet of the judges. He was handed the microphone to speak a few words. Aarav held it with shivering hands. He had tears in his eyes.
“This song was dedicated to my family whom I lost almost 2 years back in an accident and also to my best friends who became my family thereafter.” He said. There was pin-drop silence everywhere. It was an emotional moment. Rishaan, Kiara and Diya rushed to the stage and hugged Aarav. Aarav was a bundle of nerves.
“I will be celebrating this Christmas with my friends at Goa. You guys are my life.” He added. The crowd cheered again in support.
That night Aarav couldn’t sleep. He was thinking about his family, the car accident in which he lost his parents and his sister and then how he met his friends. Two years ago after he passed class twelfth, he lost everyone. Shattered, Aarav gathered his broken pieces, started earning his livelihood by teaching children. He took admission in college for pursuing B.Com (Hons.) . There he met the bold, outspoken, fun loving and extrovert Kiara. Diya followed soon; she was soft-hearted, quiet, emotional and extrovert. Quite unlike her, Rishaan was confident, determined, bold and aggressive. There a new phase of life began. Slowly the bond between them grew stronger. The three brought back happiness in Aarav’s life and were the world to him.
Next morning the four friends met at college. Aarav hugged them tight. He was being treated like a hero by the entire college. Aarav reminded his friends that they had to leave for Goa the next evening. All of them were excited about this vacation. Only Diya was a bit confused. She wanted to go because of Aarav but did not want to face Rishaan. Something had happened a few days back after which the friendship between Diya and Rishaan did not remain the same. Some fifteen days ago, when Aarav was busy practising for the singing event and Kiara was absent, Rishaan and Diya walked towards the canteen after their Economics lecture. As usual Rishaan was busy flirting with his female classmates passing by while Diya was deep into thoughts trying to solve a question given by the teacher. They sat at the table. Rishaan tried to seek Diya’s attention by showing her some videos in his phone. Diya wasn’t interested. She was scratching her head, still trying to solve the same question. Rishaan called out, “Diya.” She placed a finger on her lips and said,
“Shhhhhhh Rishaan, let me solve this first.” Irritated, Rishaan snatched Diya’s books and the bell rang. It was time for the next lecture. Diya tried to take back her books. She wanted to go to the class but neither did Rishaan give her the books nor did he let her go. The canteen was empty in a short while. Only Diya and Rishaan remained there. She kept asking him why he was behaving so weird. Rishaan didn’t respond.
Suddenly he held Diya’s right hand, got down on his knees and said, “I think I have fallen for you. I Love You.”
Diya laughed as she thought it was a new prank. But Rishaan was serious and was reluctant to get up. Diya merrily asked him, “Is there a drama coming up in the college soon?” Rishaan lifted his face and said, “I wanted to confess my feelings for you since the last few days but I was not getting a chance. I seriously love you, my dear. We have known each other since childhood and I feel that you are the best girl I can ever get for myself. You know everything about me. Your presence makes me feel complete. I cannot live without hearing your voice even for a single day. I always borrow your notes because I want to talk to you more. I don’t know how it did happened but this friendship has actually turned into love. I want to cherish all my moments with you.”
Diya seemed frozen. She did not move, neither did she speak. Rishaan stood up.
“I want to give all happiness to you but please say something.”
Diya replied in a shaking voice, “You are my friend but I don’t love you. I want that our twenty year old friendship to remain the same. Please be sensible and control yourself.”
“But I love you,” Rishaan said innocently.
Infuriated, Diya turned to leave. Rishaan held her hand. “Do you want our friendship to end or do you promise to control?” She asked unable to hide her anger.
Rishaan nodded his head. “I promise to behave. And I also promise that very soon I will make you realise the intensity of my love.”
Diya tried to calm down. “I don’t want to be a topic of gossip for the college. Can you please keep this conversation confidential? Please don’t discuss this even with Kiara and Aarav.”
Rishaan smiled. “Anything for you, my love.”
Finally Diya decided to go to Goa just to make Aarav happy. That evening the friends met at the airport and something shocking happened. The bold Kiara arrived, hugged Rishaan in front of the other two friends and said, “I love you!”
Rishaan didn’t say a word. He returned a big smile, hugged her even tighter and it was an indication of Rishaan’s acceptance. Aarav was happy for Kiara and Rishaan, unaware of what had happened in the canteen a couple of weeks ago. Diya got a bit uncomfortable as she could not understand what was in Rishaan’s mind as till the previous day he was trying to prove his love for her.
“Is Rishaan fooling me? Is Rishaan fooling Kiara? Is Rishaan really in love with anyone? Is this his old flirt game?” All such questions were constantly going on in Diya’s mind when suddenly Rishaan whispered into her ears, “I love only you. I am sorry that I am fooling Kiara but this is necessary to bring out your feelings for me. Very sure you will realise that you also love me. Wait for the fun at Goa.” They boarded the flight and their journey to Goa began.
When the flight landed at the Dabolim airport, Rishaan felt uncanny. His excitement was replaced by an unknown fear that he found very difficult to decipher. Rishaan was confused about what he was doing. He was troubling his friends. He was fooling Kiara, the girl who was madly in love with him. He was running after Diya, the girl who was not ready to reciprocate her feelings for him. He could not discuss his situation even with Aarav because of two reasons. Firstly, he did not want Aarav to lose any of his friends because of his complications. Secondly, he did not want to break the promise which he made to Diya with a pure heart. He was afraid that he would lose all his friends in this strange situation he had put himself to.
They reached the hotel to freshen up. The girls shared a single room and the boys shared the other room. The boys were ready to go to the beach. As usual the girls were taking time to get ready – clothes, matching accessories, make-up; they had a lot to do. Kiara was constantly praising Rishaan and expressing her love in front of the other two in the room. Like every friend, Aarav was hitting Rishaan and was busy teasing him. But Diya felt uncomfortable with this development. She tried to change the topic many times but Kiara was not willing to take a pause.
Soon it was time for the beach. All four threw their tension in the air. Splashing water at each other, riding the motor boat, writing on sand, they were having the best time of their lives. The girls wanted to go shopping. Rishaan declared that he would buy a gift for everyone. He bought sunglasses for Aarav, bracelet for Kiara and earrings for Diya. Kiara bought a shirt for Rishaan and they hugged each other tightly. Diya was getting jealous. They danced to the beach music tunes. Sometimes it was Rishaan and Kiara dancing as a couple and at other times one could see Rishaan and Diya doing so. Diya’s jealousy became evident from her behaviour and Aarav could feel that something was wrong but he chose to remain silent.
Often there were fights between Kiara and Diya for Rishaan. Both were equally possessive for him. Rishaan was afraid that the friendship was about to fall off. It was time for them to return. Before returning, the friends decided to go to a nearby church. After offering their prayers, Diya got some spare time to talk to Rishaan.
“I am in love with you too. But I don’t want you to hurt my best friend. Yet I can’t afford to lose you. I don’t know what to do now.” Rishaan quickly hugged Diya before anyone could see them and said, “Don’t worry, I will make things perfect.”
“Rishaan, Diya come fast. Help…” It was Aarav screaming on top of his voice. Diya and Rishaan ran quickly in the direction of the voice. When they reached Aarav, they saw Kiara lying on the floor. Aarav told them that she fainted; she just said, “Call my family here,” before turning unconscious. She was rushed to a nearby hospital and her family was called immediately to Goa. To everyone’s surprise, the fun loving and cheerful Kiara was suffering from brain tumour. Her family was aware of this but she had hidden it from her friends. Her complications were incurable. The doctors had told that she would not live for long. Kiara was kept under observation. When she regained her consciousness, after meeting her family she called her friends inside. Kiara was still smiling and lying cheerfully on the hospital bed. The three friends rushed to her, hugged her and started crying. Kiara pushed them away.
“Don’t spoil my makeup guys.”
They started laughing.
”Now these are my last wishes” She said. “I love you, Rishaan, but I know you love Diya. keep her happy forever. Aarav, our rock star, please sing a song for our friendship.”
Aarav wiped his tears, gathered courage and sang for her. As the song ended, Kiara took her last breath uniting Rishaan and Diya forever. She had a smile on her face but left everyone in tears.