“Where are you?” Veerinder said on the phone.
“Oh, I am sorry Veeru, I had to leave early, couldn’t inform you in hurry. I was about to call you as soon as I was free”, Kavita replied to him.
“Where. Are. You”, he said it very slowly this time.
“I’m at the lawyer’s.”
“What am I doing here then? Waiting outside your home, ringing bell from the last ten minutes, you could have messaged me that you are leaving early. Why are you at the lawyer’s by the way?”
“I’ll talk to you about it.”
“Of course you will. I have been noticing you are behaving differently since yesterday and I don’t like it. You don’t have to behave like this. Everything is going to be okay”, there was a clear feel of irritation in his tone.
“Veeru, please let me get free, I will call you. I still have something important to take care of”, she requested him, hoping that he will agree easily.
“Fine,I am leaving for work, will be waiting for you”, he cut the phone as soon as he finished.
“Rude!” she said while looking at her phone, “Always rude!”
Veerinder drove to office and typed his resignation, stating ‘Inability to continue’ as the reason. He sent a text message to Kavita that he had submitted his resignation to the CEO and it was accepted on immediate grounds. There was a party in office after working hours and he hoped that she will be free by that time.
Kavita read the text as soon as it flashed on her mobile but chose not to reply back. There were still some formalities left to be taken care of.
She remembered the day when Veerinder first stepped into the office, a nervous young graduate he was back then, with no work experience at all. He was hired via campus recruitments and it was an easy pick for the company, for companies always looked out for exceptional talents over candidates with high scoring marks card. Kavita was in the team of recruiters that time. Though she had no powers to recruit anyone, it was just her amusement which made her father, the owner of the company, to bow to her wish of being present at the time of interviews and witness the hiring process. She herself didn’t require a job, she knew she just had to take over her father’s business one fine day and hand it over to her husband.
Many new candidates were hired from other colleges. Kavita did not attend any other hiring process, once was enough. She joined the company as her father’s assistant a year later and found herself attracted towards Veerinder in a matter of few weeks. Veerinder was not afraid of making mistakes, he made mistakes all the time, but corrected them quickly and never repeated them again. He was a regular guy, with a very basic lifestyle. Under Kavita’s supervision, his work began to flourish and he began receiving regular promotions, sometimes much earlier than required.
With money comes the urge to spend it. He shifted into a good apartment, his attire changed and he bought a car as well. Kavita was happy. She was planning to tell him about her love for him when, one evening, he submitted an application for a fifteen days leave. His father had died in a road accident. He left for his home town and did not join office after his leave period was over. His cell phone was switched off. His apartment was locked. Veerinder disappeared.
Kavita spent days waiting for him before she drew his file up in her computer and called up the alternate number provided by him at the time of his hiring. The phone rang but nobody answered. She tried again and it was Veerinder’s voice on the other side.
“You were supposed to join two weeks ago. When are you joining back?” Kavita questioned, hoping to receive a positive reply.
“I can’t join back mam. My mother is broke after my father’s death and she has decided not to migrate”, he replied in a straight tone.
“Make her understand Veerinder, the company needs you, there is so much of work pending here, you please make her understand somehow and come back”, she spoke with a mixture of anxiety, urgency and desperation in her voice.
“My mother is more important for me at the moment mam. I am sorry but I cannot come. Not until she decides to come with me” he made himself clear. Kavita was shattered, she could not think of anything else to say next. She wished him luck and disconnected the phone.
Four months later, Veerinder called up the office and asked if he could rejoin the office. His mother had died of heart stroke during her sleep. He had mourned the death of his parents and was ready to get on with his life once again and make something out of it.
With time, everything got better again. His position in the company, his position in Kavita’s life and his position in his newly gained friend circle. Kavita had expressed her love for him and he had accepted it graciously, considering the fact that not many will refuse. But, as it happens with everyone after some time, he started to get bored with his job’s everyday routine. He became irritated and started to neglect his work regularly. He wanted change. Kavita tried her best to sort out the problem by redesigning his office, staying with him at his apartment, making him feel loved and wanted, but all in vain. It appeared as if he did not want her love. Something was eating him from the inside and he was unable to cope up with the evident pain. It was disturbing Kavita as well, with every passing day.
He left the city for a week and when he came back, surprisingly, everything was back to normal. He was in joyous mood. He took Kavita out for parties and movies, he made her feel loved. She couldn’t have been happier during those few days. It was all so different and so enjoyable. She didn’t want it to stop.
When it all settled after a few days, Veerinder broke the news. He wanted to stop working. He wanted termination next morning. He did not want to continue his job for one more day. Kavita was taken by surprise. She could not understand what to make out of his decision. Had he got a job in some other company? Did he want to start his own business? He denied both.
He handed her a file, which contained records of his medical history. To her surprise, the papers were arranged in opposite order, oldest dates first. He was operated for appendix at the age of 8, elbow fracture at 12, ankle fracture at 15, dog bite at 17, shoulder fracture at 20, then she stopped shuffling the pages, she kept reading that particular page again and again and again and again. She looked at him, he was intently looking at her. She gave him a questioning look, he nodded in approval. She flipped to read the next page and was taken by shock once again.
“What rubbish!” she shouted and threw the file at him.
“Its not rubbish, it’s the truth”, he plainly replied.
“You have kept secrets from me, big secrets!”, tears dwelled up in her eyes as she spoke with a choking throat.
“Yes, I have” he tried to come close to hold her.
“Why!”, she screamed and pushed him away with all her energy. He stayed silent. They stayed in the same posture for a while, “Why!” she screamed again.
Still silent, he walked towards her again to hold her in order to calm her down.
“Don’t touch me!” she screamed yet again.
“I am just HIV positive Kavita and you will be safe even if you hug me all your life”, he said.
She broke down and fell in his arms.
He explained, “It was in his college days when I got to know about my condition as a HIV positive patient. I went for blood donation with some friends and was told about it by the doctors present there. I am not AIDS patient yet and I could well be just HIV positive all my life if I take proper care of my health. I accepted my fate after few days of depression and shrugged it off. There were days when I almost forgot that I was HIV positive. For instance, when I was about to have sex with my neighbour’s daughter and I restricted myself to an elongated make out session. I have read all the stuff available about HIV/AIDS and thankfully, kissing is safe. You can kiss me now if you want to.”
“What about the donation?” she asked.
“I thought about it few days ago. My organs are of no use to a healthy person but can be helpful for other HIV positive patients after my death. That’s why I have registered myself with Martinez Health Group. They will help me live in parts after I die.”
Kavita was not able to understand what was she feeling. She was angry, shocked, surprised, broke, hopeful and helpless all at the same time.
“What does it have to do with your resignation?” she asked after a long pause.
“Nothing”, he answered.
“Why are you resigning then?”
“We are resigning, both of us.”
She hugged him tighter and said, “Yes, we are resigning.”
Love is blind, both of them were aware of this. They had heard this phrase a million times, in movies, books, theatre, art and culture but it was a different feeling altogether to experience it. Lovers don’t need reasons to stay together, they need moments, and all Veerinder had now were moments to cherish. He had planned a party after the next day’s work where he would declare that he was resigning, he would submit his resignation to her father and request for immediate acceptance.
“Happiness is contagious!” Veerinder said as he raised a toast to everyone. He was jubilant like never before, as if he had found a hidden treasure. His eyes were shining like a set of perfectly carved diamonds, priceless. Kavita, on the other hand was in the same dull mood as she was when she joined the party an hour ago. It was nine o’ clock now and party seemed to be just heating up for the evening.
Veerinder cracked jokes after jokes and laughter kept on increasing, which later turned into hoots and whistles as everyone was enjoying the moment at hand. It was Veerinder’s last day at work. He was retiring. He wasn’t old, just in his mid-twenties, he wasn’t joining anywhere else, he just decided not to work anymore. Kavita walked over to him and asked for a moment of privacy.
He excused himself, not before he cracked yet another joke based on disturbance.
“Yes Kavita, what is troubling you? Why are you so… dull?” He changed his word at the last moment. Kavita, however, knew he was about to say ‘dumb’.
“How long are you going to take? I am not feeling good here at all. Let’s leave”, she expressed herself.
“Oh this is my last day here, I need to make the most out of it. Midnight! We’ll leave at midnight! Sharp!”, he raised his voice at the last word, Kavita felt he was not doing it deliberately, “Promise!” he said loudly. It was enough for her. She couldn’t expect to be treated as she didn’t matter at all.
“Fine, I’ll be waiting for you outside in the car”, she said in a low tone and left the party.
For a very brief moment, Veerinder’s expression dropped, but as if he did not want to be bothered about anything tonight, he turned around to his friends, “All’s well! She will be waiting for me in the car! Very desperate woman I tell you!”, and everyone, once again, laughed hysterically.
Exactly at midnight, he called the party off. It took him few more minutes giving his last good bye hugs to every staff member. He came running towards the car. Kavita kept looking at him with unblinking eyes. He opened the passenger seat’s door, bent down and said, “Why were you at the lawyer’s?”
“I had to get some papers prepared” she replied bluntly.
“What papers? Divorce before marriage?”, he chuckled and sat inside.
She smiled at him.
“Tell me! What papers?”, he asked again. She remained unresponsive. He grabbed her bag and started shuffling it.
“Look at you mister! Somebody termed me desperate a while ago!” she said laughingly.
“Whatever!”, he said breathing heavily.
He found out an envelope, opened it, took some papers out of it and began searching for the important phrases to know what it was. To his surprise, it was Kavita’s will. She had prepared a will to donate her body organs to Martinez Health Group after her death with a special condition that her body organs shall be used exclusively for HIV positive patients. He reread some lines many times to make sure whatever he was reading was true and authentic or not. He checked her signatures and her lawyer’s chamber stamp on the papers as well. It was authentic.
“Why for HIV positive patients only?” he asked the most evident question.
She held his hand and said, “Because you already have my heart and it is still working fine.”
He understood her meaning. She wanted to live as he had decided to live. She sparked off the engine.
“Where to?” he asked.
She looked ahead, put the car in gear and said, “To life!”