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“Okay, now that Naina is fine and everyone’s finally here, let’s board the bus.” Shanti teacher announced. All the students rushed into the two buses in a haphazard manner, and Naina was the last to board, helped by her concerned teacher. As she climbed in, Swati signaled for her to take the seat she had saved, but before she took a step further, her eyes met Sameer’s.
She gulped, trying to stop herself bursting into a flood of tears, and quietly got off the bus to board the other one. Swati was confused, while Munna and Pandit looked at each other in guilt and despair, and Sameer squeezed his eyes tightly and turned away, doing his best to prevent tears coming out of his eyes. Seeing that Sameer was really sad, Munna moved towards the seat next to him, but Sameer said, “Please, Munna. Leave me alone, don’t sit here.”
Munna was hurt, but he understood his friend’s feelings, and moved next to Swati. “Why did Naina move to the other bus?” she wondered out loud, and Munna took a deep breath and told her, “Pandit… I mean, Swati, now listen carefully to what I’m going to tell you.” And so, he told her everything. All about the bet that they had placed, everything that Sameer had done to get the words ‘I love you’ out of Naina, how she had confessed it, and also how Sameer had really started wanting her friendship.
At the end of the story, Swati was dumbfounded, and she clenched her fist. “How dare Sameer do that to my friend?” She pushed Munna away and occupied the seat next to Sameer before he could protest. “How could you, Sameer Maheshwari?” she demanded, “Do you even know how much Naina loved you? Or do you even know what love is, for that matter? You know, I used to continuously warn Naina that Sameer’s love is just ‘timepass’, but she said that Sameer’s heart is even more beautiful than he is. She trusted you, Sameer. And you? You broke her heart. Shame on you!” Saying so, she got up and went back to her seat, angry tears welling up in her eyes.
Sameer brought down his clenched fist tight on his thigh, engulfed in severe despair. The whole journey, he could think of nothing but all that Naina had done for him, and how he had broken her innocent heart…
Two days. Then they would return to school. As this thought crossed his mind, his guilt only doubled. How? How was he supposed to face Naina? How was he supposed to look into her innocent eyes again? How was he going to see her looking sad like she had never been before, and that too because of him? Because of him. Maybe that bright smile of hers would never appear on her face again when she saw him. “NO!” he screamed loudly in despair. No one was home. He buried his face in his hands. No, he wouldn’t let Naina be sad.
“I will apologize. Yes, it’s the only way. I will say sorry. She can’t be sad because of me. I’ll make sure my best friend’s smile returns.” he said out loud. He rushed out of the house, as the sun began to set. Getting onto his bike, he rode away, just as Munna and Pandit returned and wondered where he had gone. He had refused to talk to any of them, and as Munna suggested that they follow their friend, Pandit replied, “Munna, no. I think he needs to be alone. Let him go. If he doesn’t return soon, we’ll follow him.”
There it was. The balcony where she used to stand and they used to look at each other lovingly. At least, she used to look at him with love. Now, he knew that she wouldn’t. But he would do anything to get her to forgive him. Be her best friend again. He hugged the beautiful blue-and-white sweater she had made for him. Every minute waiting in the cold seemed like a year. But Sameer was determined. An hour, another, and another. And then, finally she came out.
She didn’t see him. But he saw the painful sight of her breaking down there, clutching the big teddy bear he had gifted her at the fair back in Mount Abu. Appalled, he raised his hand in pain, and then her eyes met his.
As she saw him hugging her sweater, her fist clenched, and she began lightly punching the railing that she had been holding onto for support. All their moments once again rushed through her entire body like a good dream-turned-nightmare, and her head started spinning. Seeing him one last time, wiping her tears, she ran back in and started sobbing softly. No, she mustn’t think about him. He was the worst mistake of her life. “I hate you, Sameer Maheshwari. I hate you.” she mumbled, and lay down again. But she couldn’t sleep, no matter how much she tried.
In spite of wearing the sweater, Sameer shivered in the ruthless cold, and he was thankful when he saw the familiar faces of Munna and Pandit, with warm blankets. Grateful for such amazing friends, he hugged them tight, and they all stood in wait of the girl who they had hurt badly.
Two hours passed, and Naina continued tossing and turning in her bed. No matter how much she hated him, she still loved him. Was he still there? No, it was midnight. He would have gone back home. Why would he care? She flung her part of the blanket away, and got out of bed. In small steps, she went out again. He was still there.
Trying to feel warm in the blankets and sweater. He might not have loved her, but she had loved him. She put on her slippers, and slipped out of the house and down the stairs, out into the chilly darkness, where she could see Sameer, Munna and Pandit, their eyes on the balcony, waiting for her to come out. She walked out towards them, and snatched away the blankets. They looked up, shocked, and Sameer immediately stood up and held his ears, looking down.
“Go away, Sameer. Please. Just go away.” she said, biting her lip, trying her level best to stop the tears. “Naina-“he began, but she interrupted him, “Sameer, it was all a bet for you. Not for me. I really loved you. And… I won’t be able to take it anymore. Please, Sameer,” she folded her hands, “Just go, for God’s sake. Please.”
Tears flowed down from his eyes, and he walked away without a word. She stood watching them, as they disappeared into the darkness.
“She won’t accept your apology, Sameer.” said Munna, patting him on the back. Sameer turned around. “Do you know why she asked me to leave, Munna?” he said softly. “Because she couldn’t see me standing there in the cold. She still loves me, Munna, Pandit. Even after all that happened.” He placed his hands on his friends’ shoulders. “But I won’t let her cry anymore. I’ll turn her tears into smiles. I’ll make her my best friend again. I promise Naina, I won’t let a single sorrow touch you anymore. You’ve cared for me, and I’ll care for you.”
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Source: Telly Updates