This post is a part of 24-day Marathon fiction called Yaariyan. To read from the beginning, click here.
There is lightning in the sky followed by drizzle. The dark clouds seem to have a long plan to keep them busy. The front runners run towards the campsite, excited to make it on time. Niket, Arpit and other people in the middle of the pack try to find a place to take shelter in till the rains stop. They take a detour from the navigation and find a small cave to take shelter in. The final tranche of the pack remove their ponchos and keep walking, unable to find any place to take shelter in the open meadows.
After forty minutes of walking amid drizzle, they reach the cave. Rains make everything beautiful, the meadows look greener and there is a pleasant tinge of wet mud in the air – The cave is a perfect place to take refuge in – the only thing missing are hot pakodas and tea!
Arpit is sitting in the corner of the cave in total shock, guilt and remorse have grabbed him for good. He feels ashamed to even think about the extent to which he has been wrong and in the last four years. Concerned by his behaviour, Ruhi sits next to him in the corner as others enjoy the weather. Niket gives them some privacy.
As she holds his hand, Arpit comes back to the present and seeks out the listener in Ruhi. ‘I’ve been wrong the whole time. I didn’t trust the friend who loved me the most. He did things which I would never do for him. He let go of his love for our friendship. I feel ashamed to face Abhinav, now that I know the truth. I haven’t been a good friend and will never be one.’
Ruhi listens calmly as Arpit continues his story. He is mumbling the same things repeatedly, not able to calm himself. Ruhi pulls him out of the self derogation he is subjecting himself to with a jerk on his shoulders. ‘Your past doesn’t define you. It is what you choose to do in the present which will steer the further course of your life.’
The words reach Arpit, but do not reach his mind; they are lost in the maze of past thoughts he is trying to make his way out of. But her support helps him calm down. She looks into his eyes and tells something he wants to hear, ‘Everything is going to be alright. Calm down and think how you’re going to make things right.’
Arpit sits there to think things through and makes a decision to make things right. It is high time he starts living for others – at least for the friend who loves him the most. It is now that the conversation he had with the mountain at Gadsar Lake starts making sense.
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