Do you recall, not long ago
We would walk on the sidewalk
All we did was care for each other
But the night was warm
We were bold and young
All around the wind blows
We would only hold on to let go
Blow a kiss, fire a gun
We need someone to lean on
Blow a kiss, fire a gun
All we need is somebody to lean on
[Major Lazer and DJ Snake – Lean On]
It was the third time the phone was ringing. I was sitting with my laptop, working on a pet project. The last 3 months had been quite life changing. I quit EatOrg, and soon after left to Canada for a month to travel and meet friends and relatives. The trip did good to me, and once I was back, I decided to go back to things I loved. My days were spent reading, writing, going to my contemporary dance class, cooking, coding and coloring. I joined Yoga Teacher Training Course at a premier Yoga Academy in the city, and that kept me busy.
I checked the phone, it was some unknown number. Truecaller suggested it was from Pune, but with MNP, one could no longer know. I finally picked it up.
“Vaani?”, the voice that I knew so well, spoke from the other end. “Aakaash? Where are you calling from? Whose number is this?” “I came down to Pune, you won’t believe whom I met here. Anyway, I am coming back tomorrow, and I want to see you as soon as I land. We will meet at the coffee shop near your house?”
From the moment I left the EatOrg premises, Aakaash had tried reaching out to me in more ways than one. There were incessant “I am sorry” texts, countless calls on phone, Skype and Whatsapp, and several emails on my personal e-mail ID. But I left for Canada soon, and avoided using any kind of mode of communication or social media – I was just not willing to deal with the mess I had left behind. The calls and messages eventually stopped, or so I thought, until today.
“Are you asking me to meet or ordering me to?”, I asked with a wry smile on my face. “I will be there at 5 pm. See you, bye.”, was all he said.
It was 5 minutes past 5pm when I reached. Aakaash was already sitting there, but not alone. “Guess who I found at Pune.” It was Tarang. I looked at both of them, with utter disbelief. “Vaani before your eyes pop out, please sit down, we have already ordered your favorite Mocha. And yes, we all have a lot to say, and this is going to be a hell of a evening.” “Indeed guys, indeed.”, I was almost speaking to myself, but that came out aloud I guess.
“Guys I know I screwed it up”, started Aakaash. “EatOrg was our dream, it was a lovely idea, but in my greed to make money, I unintentionally sacrificed what EatOrg stood for – honesty and friendship. I lost two of my closest friends to my idiocy, and it has taken me a lot of courage to admit this, but guys, I was wrong. Vaani, soon after you left, we had another round of food poisoning incident. There were too many complaints this time, and someone informed the local Health Inspector, who along with his team, came to check our kitchens. Needless to say, our hygiene and quality of products resulted us to get slapped by heavy fines, and that’s when me and Dua had a fight. He blamed it all on my mismanagement and we, well he decided, that EatOrg needs to be sold off. Fortunately for us, a health and fitness cafe in Pune was willing to buy EatOrg, since they have been looking to expand to Bangalore as well. And guess what, Tarang is a part of Healthily.”
“Healthily is a family business of one of my B-School classmates,” began Tarang. “After I left EatOrg, I reached out to him. He too had been looking to revamp his cafe, and wanted some help to do the same. We found an angel investor who had faith in our vision and Healthily now has its own apps on all major smartphone platforms. When we got to know that EatOrg was up for sale, I convinced the investor to allow us to acquire them. We had only one condition though.”
“Which was??”, I was intrigued by now.
“That Ajay Dua would no longer be part of EatOrg.”, replied Aakaash. “Really??? And he agreed?”, I asked, flabbergasted. “Well he had no choice, there are several organizations after his tracks, his farm has had complaints of inhumane conditions and less than minimum wages being paid.”, said Tarang. “And that’s why we are here Vaani. I think EatOrg deserves another chance, and it needs you and your vision. And this time, nothing will go wrong.”, Aakaash shifted his chair and moved closer to the table, looking at me with anticipation.
I was quiet. None of us was saying anything, probably waiting for me to break the ice. After several moments of uncomfortable silence, I knew I had to speak. “I don’t want to be a part of this venture again.” Tarang and Aakaash stared at me, shocked. Tarang opened his mouth to say something, but I raised my hand and said, “I am not done yet.”
“From past 2 years, we have all been working towards EatOrg, equally hard. But for me, this journey has had a different meaning altogether. I realized that this is not my dream, it is you guys’. And while I have tried to do as good a job as I could, I realize that it wasn’t enough. In my bid to be a loyal friend to both of you, I continued to work for your visions, but I lost my own sense of self somewhere. In between your ego clashes, I got caught up for no reason. As much as I love you both, it is time I do something for myself, and myself alone. I think I am done sacrificing my dreams for your dreams.”
“But we need you Vaani”, began Tarang. “No Tarang you don’t. For if you had needed me, you would have stopped that day. You would have called me up, talked to me and we could have figured something out, like get another investor onboard, or something. For you, I was always there, but you chose to leave, because you have your own set of rules that you like to play by. Today you have come back, because the rules are your own. While there is nothing wrong with that, I don’t think I need that kind of drama any more in my life.” “Vaani I am sorry. I just needed time to figure out..” “Figure out what Tarang? That what is more important to you- your ambitions or your friends?”, I blurted out.
Tarang had nothing to say in his defence. He looked at Aakaash, and sighed,”Yaar, tu hi samjha isey, meri nahin sunegi ab. I think I should leave now.” “Let me drop you till the parking.”, Aakaash got up and left with him. Five minutes later, he was back.
“Vaani, dekh meri baat samajh, I know you are mad at him.” “No Aakaash, I am not mad at him. I am just tired, of fighting for others’ opinions. All this while, ever since college, all I have done is either fight for your opinion with him or vice versa. But in that process, somewhere, I think I lost my own voice of reason. There have been a lot of things that I did for the sake of our friendships, but it’s time I do something for me too.” I took out the ring from my purse, and placed it on the table. “You know Aaakash, they say a sapphire stands for honesty and wisdom. The more blue a sapphire is, the purer it is. I am your friend, and if you need me, I will always be there, but I need to do what makes me happy.”
Aakaash took the ring, and asked me,”So what are you going to do?” “A lot of things, actually”, for the first time in the entire conversation, I smiled. “I am doing a Yoga Teacher Training Certification, and will soon be qualified to teach. I have quite a few things in mind, some freelance coding projects and online articles, let’s see where it all goes.” “So this is it Vaani, for us?” “Of course not Aakaash, I will always be the friend you can lean on.” “Me too Vaani, me too.”, he held my hand in his.
“Acha listen, did you quit smoking?”