CHAPTER 3: 2020

I was happy and at the same time relieved that I could make it to Adi’s New Year eve party. My crushed nose and forehead had kind of healed and I was discharged a day before the party. Although the ever caring doctors and my parents advised me rest,I didn’t bother and went ahead with my decision to attend the party.

Hell,I haven’t been to a party even once! This was one chance I couldn’t let go!

I reached near Adi’s apartment by 9 and from the gate itself,I could hear the badly remixed Honey Singh and Akon tracks. I called up Abhi to know about his whereabouts and came to know that he was already inside. I opened the door reluctantly to see around 30 odd guys, drenched in sweat, swaying and dancing madly to the tracks,as if it was the last day of their lives.

As expected, there was a neat line of Old Monk and other brands of alcohol,whisky and wine which I couldn’t recognise in the dim light.
I spotted a visibly drunk Adi busy with some girl,laughing madly.
Abhi on the other hand was near the window,busy texting on his phone,smiling at the screen.

“Come on! Throw that phone away at least for now!”,I snatched away his phone.

“No..no Sooraj! Give me my phone back! NOW!”,he blurted out irritated.

“No..no! Let me see first who is that person for whom you were ignoring the music behind and furiously tapping on this gorilla glass screen.. ”,I smirked mischievously.

“Er..no..”

I knew his screen lock pattern.
And he knew that.

“Avantika huh? ”,I glared at the screen.

“She’s a good friend. That’s it man!”,he tried defending himself.

“From your chats..it doesn’t seem so.. my 10 pointer friend!”

“First of all..please! Keep this 10 pointer thing away. It’s past. Why do you still ‘insult’ me with this goddamn number!”

“That means that I would have to frequently use this term now to irritate you. Right 10 pointer Pandey?”,I purposely taunt him.

“Whatever! I have got used to this taunt anyways.”,he showed me the finger.

“Oho! Cool down! Or else I’ll text Avantika bhaabhi that you are gay.”,I chuckle.

“You do that..and I swear..I..”,he was on his nerves now.

I was about to end my act,that’s when Adi tapped on my shoulder.

“Hey Adi..how many shots till now?”,I ask,as a matter of fact.

He signalled 8 with his fingers.

“That’s pretty low by your standards I guess.”

“The night is still..still young my friendssss..enjoyy!”,he yelled and went back to the crowd,at the same time pulling us with him.

I was bad at dancing. And I knew that. And trying to dance would look even worse. So I just bobbed my head,pretending to enjoy the music and looking out for some pretty girls. Abhi joined Adi and matched him with his steps without any hesitation. I seemed out of place. Alone.

“Hey! Why don’t you dance? Didn’t like the music eh?”,someone patted on my back.
I didn’t recognise him.

“Nah..I have a knee injury and I’m not a good dancer anyways. ”,I lie the first part. The second part was well..the truth.

“Ohk..by the way,I’m Wasim. Aditya’s Ranji teammate.”

“I’m Sooraj..Adi’s college friend..”,we shake hands.

“And this is Natasha. My girlfriend.”,he introduced his partner.

I repeated my name again and was about to do the customary shake hand when she proceeded and hugged me.

“Nice to meet you Sooraj.”

“Nice..to..to meet you too..”,I stammered since it was the first time a girl hugged me.

“Well,we have to go for now,we have our plans..”,Wasim’s words broke our embrace.

“Ya..sure! And ya..Happy new year!”,I wish them.

“Happy new year to you too”,they wish and soon,left the place.
And there I was back. Alone again.

I sat at a corner and preferred reading some books or browsing the Internet on my phone rather than getting drunk and puking out.

As the clock ticked 11:30,almost everyone was exhausted. Adi was still dancing like a fanatic. Abhi was on the couch,half awake,half asleep.

The music still blared loud and my head hurt. Two hours in to the party and I was about to end another Paulo Coelho novel. Great.

Soon,the countdown began.

10..

9..

8..

I wasn’t amused by these things anymore. I knew that new year just marked the changing of calendars and making up some stupid resolutions that we were ourselves sure we won’t follow.

7..

6…

Adi was now dancing with a bottle on his head.

5..

4…

3…

I look at my phone screen,waiting for the notification bar to explode with “Happy new year 2020” and some carefully copy-pasted new year messages.

2…

1…

The Times Of India app showed one notification.

“Another series of explosions shake the nation. Srinagar, Poonch,Shimla and Chandigarh. JeM claims responsibility.”

“HAPPY NEW YEAR!”,everyone tested their vocal chords to the limit, as I smashed the phone in disgust.

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