While Chatur is still busy snatching his pants away from Raju, Pia makes a stagier entry by stepping out from the car in her bridal lehenga, probably too pricey to be quoted by a chutney spill. On the other hand, Farhan unclips his nose to take a long fresh breath. Amidst all this drama, they grasp how long it has been since they met Rancho. This sudden realization allows them all to walk towards this brick walled school in anticipation of finding him. The quirkiness of this place reminds them of all their pissed-off drunk nights (literally), the little too embarrassing spankings, and “all is well” days.
Not knowing what to expect, they all make it to the director’s office, where they find a patchy, bald headed man sitting on a brown cushioned chair. He reeked of sausages and Velamints. Breaking the silence, Pia asks him about Rancho. He replies in a voice probably too bulky for him, “Rancho who?”. And before this could flush them all yellow in anxiety, Farhan yells the full name “Ranchoddas.” Seeming much more familiar with the name now, the guy directs them towards the beach.
Rancho stands in the middle of the beach with his back towards them all, in his casual shirt. Seeing him after so long, Farhan and Raju get emotional and are ready to greet him with their “pants down salaam.” Pia gets all sentimental and finds tears ruining her bridal makeup. She marches up to him and taps his shoulder, all ready to show him that noses don’t interrupt kisses. Before this rosy moment could see its good end, a thick voice interrupts her reverie with an “excuse me?”.
And here he was, a total stranger, they all mistook to be Rancho. He had a paunch. The cheeky grin was missing. They are still unable to digest reality. “Rancho?” yells Chatur in a somewhat more sarcastic way. “I’m Ranchoddas Yadav,” says the hefty, bearded man leaving them all dismayed.
From Pia’s sister’s wedding crash to literally crashing down Pia’s own wedding, from a pantless Raju to a pretentiously dead Farhan on a plane, from dreaming about an entry on a bright yellow scooter to now standing with some unknown Ranchhodas, all this has nothing but dazed them all. Not knowing how to console her, Raju asks Pia, “What now?”
To which the wavering voice of Pia replies, “Maybe this love is my book to never finish, and so I shall wait.”
Going back to bed and forgetting the whole thing wasn’t an option. They had all spent ten odd years for this moment. Hit with the reality that they might never find their Rancho was like choking on tears; The uncomfortable feeling is in your throat yet there is nothing you can do about it.
They say time heals all wounds. Time had moved on, and so had they, but things were never the same for Pia. Most days, she’s strong. Some days, she’s so mad at him for not reaching her out that the thought of ever forgiving him is ludicrous. But every now and then, she misses him so much she can’t breathe.
Sure, she did meet other men but that spark was missing. No one could even compare to Rancho. His wit, his ingeniousness thinking, his perceptiveness but most of all, his stupid comments that would make her laugh and roll her eyes simultaneously. Was she ever going to experience the same kind of love again? The one that made the wind blow, her dupatta fly in slow motion and make the moon look a little bigger.
She has turned thirty-five, and is the ever busy doctor. Her black hair is shot with white wiry threads, and her forehead is creased, like a child’s paper fan. She is well dressed as always, with her mother’s watch still adorning her wrist. As she carefully sits her plate down in the hospital cafeteria, her mobile flashes with a text that read- Hey Pia, this is Rancho here. I don’t know where to begin; there is just too much to tell or probably explain. I was finally able to reach out to Farhan yesterday, and he told me about you. I think it’s best we all meet somewhere and talk. I am currently in Turkey, spending my days as a scientist and father to two wonderful daughters… she left the message half-read there.
She deletes the message, shoves the phone in her pocket and wipes her tears. She stands up, still crying. Still trying to catch her breath. Why does the cafeteria room appear to be spinning? In the last fifteen minutes, she had got the text she’d been waiting for all her life. In the last fifteen minutes, she had lost the love of her life. That’s what fifteen minutes can do to a person.
It can destroy them.
It can save them.
Now, she has to no longer linger in the pages of this unfinished book of love.
Written by Ridhima Sharma for MTTN
Edited by Shivangi Acharya for MTTN
Featured Image by pupilinblows on flickr
Artwork by Scott C