Sometimes she almost believes the shit he sprouts about destiny and karma. Sometimes she doesn’t. This is one of those times. She watches the spotless white sheet turn carmine with every drop of the scarlet fluid seeping through it and finally decides that all that bullshit about karma was just that. Bullshit. Muskaan had never wronged anyone. Still, the white cloth turned scarlet with every drop of Muskaan’s blood and the world seemed silent because her best friend’s heart was still. She makes a sound that is wedged between a guttural sob and an angry scream. She will miss her friend with every beat of her heart, every moment of her life. She clutches the scarf to her face and inhales the orange and ginger scent that is typically Muskaan. It’s something she has smelt all her life and yet another sob escapes her heaving frame as she realizes that she will never smell it again. She watches them pull the sheet over Muskaan’s face and load her body in the ambulance. She is too exhausted to follow them. Her body is backed by the street lamp as she buries her face in her knees the sobs cutting through her. She curses the drunken asshole who slammed into her sister’s car. She is overcome with guilt; it was her idea to have a movie night with a galleon of ice cream that forced her best friend to get out at 2 in the morning.
She doesn’t notice when a paramedic sifts through her purse to call her emergency contact. She is enveloped in a strong hold after what seems like years. She hides her face in his chest and lets the fat tears soak his shirt. She is terrified. She is livid, But most of all she is guilty. She realizes she may have said that out loud because then he’s cupping her face and forcing her to look at him. She does, and bursts into fresh tears. She doesn’t deserve the open trust in his gaze, there should be derision, disgust. She notices that his eyes are bloodshot and tear tracks mark his face; and belatedly realizes he has lost a sister too. Her guilt magnifies exponentially. She wants to ask him to hit her, scold her, and hate her, anything but the love that shines through his blue eyes. He seems to have read her thoughts, or maybe she has spoken out loud again, but he is kissing her forehead, her eyes, her cheeks, her tears, her lips, he’s everywhere and nowhere all at once and she feels herself calm down. She hears him repeat something akin to “Its okay, baby, it’s not your fault. I love you.” to her over and over again. Her back aches after the prolonged contact with the pole and he sees this and pulls her up. She feels weightless, empty, drained. Her movements are laconic when they reach her house and so are his. She stumbles her way to her bed and wants to lie down but he tells her to change her clothes. It is then that she notices the bloodstains on her white tank top. She feels sick. Her feet run towards the bathroom of their own accord and she throws up in the toilet as he holds her hair back. She feels his tears splash on her nape and it pierces her that he is suffering too.
She doesn’t refuse when he urges her into the shower with him. She responds when he makes love to her slowly, gently while they are both crying. It doesn’t feel wrong, she needs this and so does he. She feels the shards of normalcy pierce her conscious at their actions, but the emotions are wrong. They are not supposed to do it out of grief with his eyes and hers red from shedding too many tears. They’re supposed to do this when his eyes twinkle with mischief as he pulls her into the shower with him.
She clothes herself and moves to the laundry bag with her bloody clothes from before, in her hands. He pulls her close to himself, never leaving her alone and she is grateful. She knows she will turn into a sobbing, blubbering mess the moment he leaves. She squeezes his hand and tries not to forget that he lost family too, but the grief in her heart is too much, and she has no space to acknowledge his.
She combs through her clothes, making sure nothing important like her wallet goes for laundry. She is about to throw her jacket in when she notices the photo sticking out of its pocket. She flips it around and gasps in surprise. He comes over to her side and she feels him reel in surprise too. It is the photo Muskaan had gifted her before the two of them left for different universities. It has Muskaan, Armaan and her laughing with their heads thrown back. She does not remember what they were laughing about but she remembers Muskaan’s words the night she gave her this picture. She had asked her to stay happy no matter what and she’d teased back that for someone who was impulsive she was acting awfully mature. An unwilling smile makes its way on her face and she sees it mirrored on his face. The picture must’ve been put in her pocket by one of the paramedics when they’d returned Muskaan’s belongings to them.
Their hands run over the picture like a caress and she knows what they both are reminiscing. She hears Muskaan’s ringing, boisterous laugh and warmth seeps in somewhere in her heart. Her finding this picture is destiny, she thinks and a wry smile curves her lips as she remembers calling it bullshit. Sometimes she almost disbelieves the shit he sprouts about destiny and karma. Sometimes she doesn’t. This is one of those times.