Prologue

“Are you done?” She asked me. June. My best friend.

“What?” I enquired as if I never heard what she spoke. In fact, it was true. I could never hear whatever she spoke. I could never hear whatever the world spoke about it. Some stopped me by giving advice. Some stopped me by creating obstacles. Some just told me that I was playing with fire. I was threatened, cajoled, punished and no wonder how many techniques were used to stop me from falling into an abyss. The abyss, commonly known as love, an endless pit that broke all the rules of the gravity. Some of them were unhappy by the turn of events that had happened in my life. I wasn’t called Jack by coincidence. I never had those charm or qualities in myself that could have made me look myself as superhero material. I was Jack of all trades but Master of none. I was merely considered as the ’joker’ in a pack of cards, that was useless, pointless and without meaning. A card that was used to help the player to win a hand by chance. I shouldn’t have thought of winning the queen, not especially when the queen was someone like Rose.

Rose. Every time, I heard her name, my heart skipped a beat. An unknown sense of happiness prevailed inside me. A heavenly feeling beyond description erupted within me like lava. It gave me serene peace as well as a sweet pain, thinking about Rose. She was every man’s dream girl. Perfect charm. Perfect attitude. Down-to-earth personality, a perfect combination of innocence and prankster. The looks were just icing on the cake for a character like hers. Rose, seemed to be like the woman that I had been waiting for years or maybe ages or maybe births. We had nothing in common. Not even common interests, likings in food dishes, habits, hobbies. If she was the North Pole, then I was south. If she was a God lover, then I was an atheist. If she loved some stuff, then I hated those. But one thing seemed familiar. Heartbreak. In our era, heartbreaks weren’t considered as serious as heart attacks. A person suffering from a heart attack would die just once, but a broken heart died a hundred deaths every day. To add salt to the wounds, even the insurance companies offered no schemes to cover heartbreaks. The only cure for heartbreak was to move on. And that was the thing that brought us together. Was it a mere coincidence? Was it just a stroke of luck? Or was it a game played by destiny? I never had an answer for it. Maybe, I would have never sought the solution because I was enjoying each moment without worrying about my future. I had decided to take a plunge even though I had known the result long back. Failure.

Many people had already seemed to have forecasted my future. They had prophesized about the testing times I would go through if I thought of changing the decision of destiny. June happened to be one of those people who had begged me to stay away from risking myself from hurting again. Obviously, why wouldn’t she stop me! After all, I was her best friend.

“Are you done, dude?” She asked me again. Her temper flared upwards every time I failed to respond. She had managed to find me in my haven after an endless number of unreached phone calls. They said, ‘To seek a religious person, walk towards the shrine. And to seek a broken heart, walk towards a tavern.’ June always knew my haunting place whenever I felt low. The beach house near the seashore had always been my hangout place when I felt the need to isolate myself from the world. The place, where I could get rid of my agonies and drown in my own world of ecstasies.

“Fuck you!” I responded angrily, as she snatched away the cigar that I had been trying to light since long.

It wasn’t my anger related to June. It was the frustration that I had tried suppressing since long. It wasn’t that I never knew how to light the cigar. I had done it countless times. The number of puffs lets out of them was beyond count. The previous heartbreak had already taught me the ways of being cool. (Cool meant being a chain smoker, a drug addict, an alcoholic, a partygoer.) I had lost a reason to live, love and hope. ‘Good things happen only in fairy tales and fiction stories by authors.’ It was a mantra that I had rote since then. Until, one day, Rose entered my life like a storm and messed up all my thinking.

“You promised.” June shouted, “You had promised us, Jack. You wouldn’t return to your old ways. You would quit all this for good.” Desperation shone on June’s face. The dam of her patience was about to burst. Tears had been waiting in the corner of her eye.

June had played various roles in my life to perfection. She was a friend, a philosopher, a guide, a sister, a pain in my butts at times. She wasn’t a fantasy material for guys. But she was the girl who defined being a fighter! She had fought many battles of her own. Not even once had she failed to help when her own demons exorcised her. That was the quality everyone admired of her. She never hesitated while calling a spade as a spade. She never accepted what was wrong from her point of view. She never stepped back showing me my mistakes. It was an attitude of hers that made me treat her as my diary where I dumped all my emotions, feelings, dreams and aspirations. She was a person whom I could bank on at my darkest of times.

“So what?” I replied with a hint of sarcasm. “So what if I break my promise this time? So what if I return to my older ways? So what if I try cutting short my life and hope to free myself from agony?” All the pent-up anger had flared up ready to be burst.

“No. Nothing will really happen if you go back to your old ways again. Nobody would care a damn about what you were, what you are and what you will be! But think about one thing. Do you think Rose would be happy to see you in this manner?”

Damn! I thought. Why would June always stop me from taking the name of Rose! In fact, why would anybody stop me from doing anything considered wrong by speaking of Rose? The cigar had finally lightened, but I couldn’t muster the courage to touch my lips to it. That was the power, Rose had commanded over me. She had unknowingly changed me into a better person. I tossed the nicotine content out of the window as tears welled in my eyes.

“Why don’t you let me tell her how much you love her?” June had always wanted to play a part in my tragic love story by telling Rose about my feelings.

“NO!” I bellowed. Never had I felt as angry as I shouted, “You are staying away from my shit! This time I am cleaning up my mess on my own! Just fuck off from this matter, right away!”

“FINE!” She debated, “Even I don’t have any vested interests to meddle in your business. But I just wanted to remind you something. Every time we had asked you to quit your old habits, and you would shut our mouths by saying, ‘I shall stop it when I find somebody worth stopping for.’ You already left it for fifty odd days. Do you want to return? For once, just place your hand on your heart and say if she wasn’t the reason you changed. Tell me that she wasn’t the one you kicked away your habits! Tell me that she wasn’t the one you had waited for!”

June was true. Rose was the reason for a sudden change in my heart. But I had to massage my hurt ego. And I had to speak up any shit that came to my mind.

“Balls! She wasn’t the reason for my change. I had done it because…” I tried thinking of constructive reasoning. But I failed to do so.

June caught me quickly and argued, “Because you don’t have any valid reason, Mr Romeo. She is the reason. And she shall always remain the reason behind this… this avatar of yours.”

“I object!”

“Balls to you and balls to your objection! For how many people have you wasted your sleep waiting for them to sleep? And for how many people have you woken up early in the morning just to be the first one to wish a ‘good morning’? And if you still aren’t convinced then for how many people have you written a love letter every day and posted it at a specific time of day in their inboxes?”

June had valid questions. I had invalid answers. No amount of debates and arguments would have helped me accept the fact that June was right. Rose had made a deep impression on my mind and most importantly, on my heart. She had walked in and out of my barren life but left her footprints in the sands of time! Rose was the reason why I looked forward to living a day more! Rose was the reason why neither of our pasts mattered to me! Tears fought their way to freedom as I broke down and wept like a baby. I was finally transported back where it all had started. The day Rose entered my life…

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