As if I wasn’t feeling bad enough, Raghav called to give me his big news.
“Hey, guess what?” he said.
“What? You told Sonali you’re in love with her?”
“Yes! You always do guess right with me!”
I had meant it as a joke, but I was careful not to let him on. “What happened? How did it go?”
“Well, we were chatting online, and I told her how much I had enjoyed meeting her…”
“When was this?” I interrupted.
“At least he still calls me up when he has important news,” observed Miki, relieved.
“And I said I wished I could meet her more often, and that I missed her. She said she missed me too, and that I was the best friend she had ever had.”
“Indeed.” I tried hard to keep any vestige of sarcasm out of my voice – if I failed, Raghav was too happy to notice.
“Well, I told her she was the best friend I had ever had, too.”
“Better than Miki, she asked. I said Miki and I have been the best of buddies, but she – Sonali – is different. I told her she means something really special to me.”
“Original,” oberved Miki – not aloud, thankfully.
“She said I was the nicest guy she’d ever met. All the other guys she had known were – well, they seemed out to take advantage of her or something.”
“She doesn’t sound like she has a lot of friends, does she?” said Miki spitefully.
“Neither do you,” retorted Mandakini.
“Then I asked if she’d be interested in being more than friends,” Raghav continued. I said I really liked her – that I thought I was in love with her.”
“She said she thought she was in love with me too,” said Raghav triumphantly.
“Hallelujah!” I rolled my eyes.
“Well, we talked some more – she told me she’d liked me ever since she knew me in college, but it was only after Amit left and we started really talking that she began to fall in love with me.”
“Yeah, isn’t it amazing? I’m so happy right now, Miki.”
“I’m happy for you, Raghav.” It wasn’t very difficult to mean it. He was happy and I loved him. How could I not want him to be happy?
“Oh man, I wish I could come over and talk to you.”
“I guess you’ll be coming over more often now, huh? Though I don’t know if I’ll see much of you any more when you do come.”
“Don’t be stupid. How can I not want to see you?”
“See?” said Mandakini. “I’m not losing him! He’ll still be my friend.”
“We’ll see,” said Miki.
I concentrated my efforts on not thinking about Raghav. It was no use wondering about what might have been. He was in love with someone else, and I had no wish to dig deeply and find out that I might have wanted him after all.
Besides, I had to move to my new house.
The move kept me busy the following weekend. Divya even gave up on going to her parents’ to help me pack and move. She refused to let me hire a truck and insisted on ferrying everything over in her car.
“After all, you only have these four boxes and these bags,” she said, coming into my room to look over my stuff. “The mattress is thin, so we can roll it up and put it in the back seat. That little rack will easily go in. And the pillows. Don’t worry, we’ll move everything in two trips.”
And we did. I had finished my packing on Saturday, except for what I needed overnight and that I packed up in the morning. By Sunday afternoon, we had moved everything to my new place. We had even bought a few things on the way – tea and salt and sugar and bread and eggs and instant noodles for when I got hungry, matches and candles in case there was a power cut on my first night, and a lock to put on my new door. The landlady saw us lugging the stuff up the stairs and put her head out of her window to ask if we wanted some tea.
“No, thanks, Auntie,” I called back politely.
“I’ll make you some tea in my new house,” I whispered to Divya.
When we had carried up the last box, we were exhausted. Divya gamely said, “Hand me a pair of scissors and we’ll start unpacking.”
“Don’t bother,” I told her. I bent over a bag. “Let me just get out fresh sheets so we can sit on the bed. And then I’ll make us tea. Would you like some Maggi?”
“Sure, I’m hungry. It’s four and we haven’t had any lunch.”
We sat there, tired but happy, sipping tea and having noodles. Now that the deed was done, I was feeling rather nostalgic. I would miss the old house – the large airy living room, the balcony where I had spent so much of my time, the lovely driveways lit up at night where I used to walk in the evenings, and the garden with the swing which I visited often and where Raghav and I had sat not so long ago.
“You’ll miss the fridge and the TV, I bet.” Divya’s mind was on the more prosaic, as usual.
“Well, I can get through the winter without a fridge,” I said. “I will buy one after a few months. And I can do without a TV, I think. If I feel I desperately need it I’ll get it – but I doubt that.”
“You should get one. You’ll get bored all by yourself.”
I gave an involuntary shudder as I thought of how lonely I would be. “I’ll think about that later,” said Miki.
“I should go.” Divya got up. “You’ll want to freshen up and unpack and I’ve got an early day tomorrow. I’m gonna go to office at seven and try to get in some extra work done so I can finish this stupid project on time.”
There I was in my new home with only myself for company.