A Sombre Dream
By Anwesh Ghosh
Vineet was a 28-year-old gentleman with boatload of dreams in his eyes. Some he knew he could fulfil before his time in this world was up; while some others he knew were out of bounds for him. He had yet to attain the success he thought he deserved. One of his dreams had always been to become a great businessman like Adani-Ambani. It was not their riches that he adored but their achievements, their contribution to the society, the respect they owned, that had always attracted Vineet, but for him the setback was 'the idea'. He despised the conventional business policies and models and wanted to do something out of the box, something extraordinary, but could never really come up with anything that satisfied even himself. To become a successful businessman was still a dream he knew he could fulfil in the near future. But one of his dreams, he didn’t know wasn’t his to see anymore was that he spends the rest of his life with his beloved, Suchitra.
Vineet's father had always told him to follow his passion, to follow his dreams besides keeping up with his studies of course. The advice Vineet had always received from his father, did always encourage him take bold decisions in his life. Even when his mom feared the worst, Vineet had always listened to his dad and never did he feel dissatisfied. Taking bold decisions may not have always proved to be fruitful for him but at the same time he never stopped learning lessons from them.
Career-wise Vineet should have done something; earned some cash maybe, and should have helped out his family given that he is a 28-year-old man; but neither Vineet nor his father had ever willingly followed the conventional ideologies of the society. Hence, Vineet although doesn't earn and help his family out financially, he himself faced no such financial issues but only because he has an amazing Dad who is unconditionally supportive of him and his lack of finances never affected his parents either.
Vineet went to study MBA after completing B.Tech from an esteemed institution where he met Suchitra for the first time. For a guy who has been single all his life it was a huge deal for him. He could never quite understand what she saw in him but at the same time he was absolutely sure of her love for him and never doubted her even for a second. Both Vineet and Suchitra other than sharing the same classes, shared the same personality, the same psychology, the same passion for art and so on. They were similar to each other in ways one can never imagine. If one began a sentence, the other could finish it almost always. When one fell ill, the other could feel the pain. This sounds too filmy, too cliché, true, but what happens, happens and is felt only by those to whom it happens. Vineet and Suchitra felt it. But even after all the similarities Vineet had failed miserably to finally be with the love of his life.
Doing MBA was costly even for a retired banker as that of Mr. Gupta, Vineet’s father. Around 5 lakhs INR a year is not everybody’s cup of tea in the modern Indian society and still Mr. Gupta managed to provide Vineet with all that is required for a guy to study the course he took. Being a good son, Vineet could not be more grateful to his dad but on the other hand for a guy like Vineet it is most unsurprising that, being in love he had more to spend on his girl; not that Suchitra wanted him to spend irresponsibly. But Vineet, who had always craved a young girl’s love could not stay away from the materialistic world whereby, he wanted ‘his girlfriend to have everything’, rather he wanted ‘to give his girlfriend everything’. With that in mind Vineet lost his senses and forgot his purchase power or financial capacity and started asking his dad for more money every now and then to which Mr Gupta could no longer adhere to. When Vineet realised that it was the end of the line for him, he started planning for alternatives as he did not want to end his gift streak to Suchitra.
Suchitra admired Vineet for whatever he was. She did not, in reality, want gifts neither did she want Vineet to haplessly spend all his father's money that way. She asked Vineet to stop his stupid acts and concentrate on himself and his studies, on saving the money that he was spending on absurd-sized teddy bears and expensive dark chocolates. She clearly told him that she did not want such materialistic pleasure and only the necessary of life are enough to satisfy her at all times. She was serious about him maybe even more serious than Vineet was, about the future. They were both 24 years old at the time and Vineet although took their relationship really seriously but never did he think about tying the knot with Suchitra, may be because he was not old enough to get married at that point or may be because he left everything to fate and did not want to pressurize his brain with what the future held. But Suchitra was already there. Only within a year of their relationship Suchitra started the drop hints about her thoughts and her sincerity regarding the relationship. In fact, she did not just indicate Vineet but she also started indicating her parents by joking about having a boyfriend and fooling around with the concept of marriage. Although, she did not directly approach her parents about Vineet but her thoughts and emotions did not remain hidden for a long as her mother was quick to catch up and was very supportive of her emotions too.
However, Suchitra’s father, Mr. Agarwal was an entirely different story. Having served in the Indian army for over 20 years, Mr. Agarwal was a strict man who never budged from his words. Mr. Agarwal was a tough man to convince as he only believed what he saw and judged people accordingly and seldom was he wrong about anyone. Suchitra is his only daughter and it is not unimaginable that he would be overprotective of her. But above everything else, he believed that people with money are the happiest and therefore only the people with boatloads of money could keep his daughter happy and safe. Unfortunately, “Love” was a factor Mr. Agarwal was completely negligent about. Suchitra was aware of her dad's thoughts and feelings but she was also confident that if anyone could melt his heart, it was only she, herself and that when the time comes, she would act accordingly and fight, if need be with her father to establish her feelings of love for her partner and finally convince him to let her get married to the one she loved but Suchitra could not be more wrong.
Vineet on the other hand found that his only alternative would be to earn some money on his own so that he could freely provide for Suchitra and then he wouldn't have to pressurize his father for more money. He was well aware that Mr. Gupta had tried his best to provide him all the finances he required but owing to the fact that Vineet’s requirements were still not met, he asked for more. There were no hard feelings between father and son as both knew each other’s woes and worries but neither could do anything except for acting in accordance with themselves. The father would then provide only as much as required by the son for completing his education and the son would be self-sufficient enough so as not to beg his father for money to buy gifts for his girlfriend.
Vineet saw taking a job as the perfect solution for his financial woes and so he did. He took up a part time job at a startup. It was a ‘Work-From-Home’ job; so, he reckoned it wouldn't hamper his studies and chalked up a plan in his mind – “While studying he would earn as much as he could from the job and keep some savings that would later add up as the capital for his business which he would start after completing his MBA degree.”
Vineet carried on with the plan with full support from his beloved Suchitra and kept on spending more than half of his earnings either buying gifts or partying; until he realised that his marks were deteriorating and that his part-time job became a full-time diversion from studies and he found himself unable to concentrate. Deep inside, Vineet felt like he was only helping others grow their business and if that continues, he would never be able to make it on his own. He feared that he would end up like most people and he would just remain a servant to other capitalists. This thought ate him up from the inside and he failed to continue with that WFH job of his. Back to square one. He had almost no savings as he had already spent most of the earnings on trivial things, things that doesn’t really matter in real world. Vineet felt like an utter failure. Even Suchitra unconvinced of the reason for his decision to resign from the job was disappointed in him. She had always looked up to him despite all his stupid actions; but this time she felt differently. She tried to convince him that resigning was not the solution and that Vineet needed to deviate from his partying and carefree habits and that the time he gets off from working, needed to be applied in his studies but her suggestions yielded no results, at least not any positive ones. Moreover, Vineet’s inferiority complex for working under other people scared Suchitra as the reality was that not all businesses can be sustained and if sustained not all businessmen can become Adani-Ambani. Suchitra did not doubt Vineet’s potential at all but deep inside she was just facing the facts which Vineet denied to even consider. She thought that even if Vineet creates an Empire, his rash and recklessly bold decisions would harm it's sustainability any day but what she feared even more was that her father would never approve of such a guy who is even unable to take care of his own life. In her father's words "An indecisive person is nothing more than an irresponsible one and there is no one I hate more than an irresponsible person."
When Suchitra told Vineet about her parents; especially her dad Vineet did not seem scared or even worried. He simply held her cheeks and reassured her saying - "I am great with parents. Don't worry! They will love me for who I am. If you are really their daughter they will." The reassurance although did not convince Suchitra but she was flabbergasted by the level of his confidence and his optimistic attitude and scared at the same time.
Time passed and Vineet never thought about taking a job. He had been a fairly good student, so while graduating he had a few highly paid job-offers on the table for him, which his parents asked him to say yes to but he rejected them all. His only vision was to become the founder of a startup and expand the business to build an Empire for himself, his parents and his beloved Suchitra. He even thought of never letting Suchitra work as he would provide her with all the luxury in the world but she had other things planned. Suchitra did not waste any opportunity of taking up a job with an MNC. Suchitra had always wanted to be a strong and independent woman and had told Vineet that even if he creates a business Empire, she would not remain idle, she would work at a senior level in Vineet's company if that opportunity ever arose or she would just take a job elsewhere or would even just continue to be employed exactly where she was at the beginning of her career; but she would be earning independently whatsoever. Vineet did not contradict her much as he knew he could not persuade her to listen to whatever he said. He did not have that position, career wise, nor that right, relationship wise.
Years passed and Vineet kept on trying one thing or the other but nothing quite seemed to work out the way he wanted. On the other hand, Suchitra at the MNC was working hard, earning not only her livelihood but also financial support for her family. Vineet was not bothered by how much she was earning or the fact that she was making do on her own, while he was just trying to follow his dreams and failing; being just an idle person really. Although he still had his father's support, he didn't receive the same from Mr Agarwal. Suchitra's father knew of his daughter's relationship with Vineet but never really approved of it. Although he knew Vineet had the potential in him and therefore did not dislike Vineet as a person but it was his recklessness and lack of patience that scared Mr Agarwal. He believed that Vineet wouldn't be able to do anything big unless he changed his attitude for the better and if he's not in a position to do something for himself he is most definitely not in a position to take care of Suchitra.
Unbeknownst to Vineet, Mr. Agarwal had fixed a meet-up for Suchitra with another man. While Suchitra refused to meet up with anyone else she had not the courage to break the news to Vineet as she knew it would mess with his head and being the over thinker he was, Vineet might take a bold step that would either shatter his dreams or would shatter him wholly as a person. Suchitra was only taking some time to think everything over and create a middle ground for everyone, when she heard the news that her father had already fixed her wedding with a guy who was the son of her dad's friend and colleague. She tried to persuade Mr. Agarwal who refused to listen to a single word uttered by his daughter. Suchitra was as surprised as anyone else would. She knew that her dad was a stringent person but never had she thought of him as such a control freak.
Suchitra tried everything in her power but failed to do anything about it and was almost forcefully married off to the man of her father's choice. She had even tried to run away but was caught in action and was detained. She was given a choice by her father – “You either marry the man of my choice; or you shall soon discover the lifeless bodies of your mother and I. Choose wisely!” The latter was not even a choice, not only for Suchitra but for any sane person on the planet. It was blackmail, an offence committed by her own father, an offence against which she could take no action. Even her mother was shunned and silenced by the ex-army official when she came on to speak for her daughter.
Before any of this, Suchitra had told Vineet everything, including the fact that her father had already started preparing to marry her off to another guy. It took Vineet by surprise but Suchitra assured him that she would take care of everything. Little did she know that she would fail so miserably. Vineet was informed of the marriage only hours before the ceremony, by one of Suchitra's cousins who was the only person in her family other than her parents who knew about Vineet and as soon as he reached the ceremony ground, he was stopped and humiliated away by the heavy security of the place. Vineet's parents knew nothing about what was going on and was calling him up constantly, worried of his whereabouts; but he was in no place to answer his parents’ calls. Over a period of nine hours passed. Vineet had given up trying to enter the ceremony ground. Beaten up, wounded and bloodied by the security personnels, Vineet sat on the muddy sidewalk opposite to the ceremony ground and witnessed the fireworks in the sky. Mr. Agarwal had spent millions for her daughter's wedding but forgot the one most important thing; “his daughter's happiness.”
Vineet texted his father - "I am fine, had a few drinks. Crashing at a friend’s. Be back soon;" and ensured that his parents not worry for him anymore. The night passed and so rose the sun. It was a whole new morning; the first morning in the last 5 years when Vineet found his heart bereft of his beloved Suchitra. He knew that all was lost. All his dreams of holding her forever in his arms, of kissing her every morning for the rest of his life, for spooning with her every night, dreams of making Suchitra his wife and giving her all the happiness in the world had shattered within a span of a day. Vineet got up and went back home where he explained everything to his parents.
Although, for the first few days Mr. and Mrs. Gupta were worried sick for their son but Vineet never even comprehended of taking any stupid step to end his life. He might have been an indecisive, irresponsible idiot but he was no coward. He faced problems head on and remained optimistic still. He thought that if his love for Suchitra was true and if Suchitra also loved him back the way he knew she did, she would one day get back to him. These thoughts of Vineet's never really faded away and life went on...
...Anant closed the lid of his laptop. His hands were shaking. He had typed almost everything he wanted to and had finally reached the part which he didn't know how to put in words. How could he write those things about his best friend, that he himself is in denial about? Anant tilted his head backwards on the head rest of the couch and closed his eyes. The tear stains were still prominent on his pale whitened face. Every memory of the past week had been nothing short of a nightmare. Horror movies that he always hated watching, seemed more luxurious than the life he presently lived.
Anant's eyes were closed but that didn't stop him from seeing. Normally, when we close our eyes, all we can see is darkness, nothingness but Anant had vivid visions; visions of an eye that is opened beyond comprehension, blood dripping down the punctured skin of a forehead; white bones of the skull peeping through the peeled off skin near the right cheek; a lower jaw detached aside from the rest of the face, a face that usually remained cheerful no matter the circumstances; a face that always held a smile even in the worst of scenarios. The horrific visions never seemed to stop. Anant jumped up and opened his eyes. He had lost his sleep as every time he dozed off, he could see the unfathomable scenes of his best friend lying lifeless at the edge of the iron divider of the highway.
Vineet was driving the bike and Anant was behind him. It was raining but the road was far from slippery. A bike like an Enfield Bullet 350 does not skid easy and they both knew it. The bike was running at a speed of around 50 kmph and no more. Vineet usually carried two helmets but that day, he just had the one which he gave to Anant as he wanted to feel every droplet of the rain. It was raining for the first time since Suchitra got married. Vineet was sad, he cried, he smoked, he drank but he didn't try to contact her and neither did she contact him. Anant knew everything about them and more. Suchitra spoke with Anant after she got married. She asked about Vineet and even told Anant that she didn't possess the courage to face her beloved while also stating that she was still trying to break the marriage tie with her make-believe husband so that she could return home to the arms of Vineet. Anant knew that Suchitra wasn't lying and was confident that she would soon come back to his best friend and make him happy again and so decided not to tell him anything about those conversations with her; a decision he regretted the most.
Vineet was enjoying the soothing rainfall and Anant accompanied him, they started singing out loud, when a sudden blast of light blinded them both. By the time they could realise that a truck being driven on the wrong side of the highway by a drunken bastard, was heading towards them, it was too late. Vineet panicked and in the blink of an eye, the bike lost balance and slipped on the mildly wet highway, when the oncoming truck hit the skidding bike and Anant was thrown away on the side walk into a pile of sand and Vineet flew away towards the iron divider where he hit his head so hard, that is lower jaw got detached from the rest of his face, among other injuries and within a few minutes he transformed into a lifeless object. The truck was long gone by the time Anant could get up and when he did, he ran almost 20 metres to back where he envisioned the most horrific scene of his life. Anant had been thinking of his sins in life, for the past week. Only a person who committed the highest form of sin could face a situation as that of him; watching his best friend die in front of him, breaking the news to the parents who had lost their only child at such young age, breaking the news to Suchitra who had already been facing massive issues in her own life only dreaming of coming back to her love, her beloved, the person who no longer breathed.
Anant wanted the world to know about his best friend, Vineet. He knew that his story is not something that would appeal to each and every person in the world but he just wanted to put it out there. He wanted to just appreciate Vineet as a person, something that he couldn't do while he was alive. Maybe Anant just wanted to release his stress through words he couldn't speak or maybe he wanted to forget what he saw and just wanted to remember his best friend through the story he wrote. Maybe Vineet had a lot of flaws in his personality but to Anant, he would forever be a perfect person, a perfect son, a perfect lover and a perfect friend just as depicted by him in his story.
By Anwesh Ghosh