It had been one year since Yuvika had left the @ink. The office felt the absence for more than a few months but later on, all had to move on. A new employee was recruited in the place of Yuvika and now the cabin belonged to Meesha. She was a 30-year-old woman who had worked with one of the most famous magazines for many years. But after her wedding, she had to shift to Delhi and preferred to join @ink. She had good experience of the field and she knew how to deal with the things but she could never match with Yuvika’s excellence and sincerity. Dev and other people gave her a very warm welcome but they could hardly accept her in the place of Yuvika. Mr Dixit had become more professional by now. He never let it matter to him as far as the work was finished on time.
The equation between Dev and Mr Dixit did not change as Dev never let it happen. But they both had always known that it was not done. Initially, Dev was annoyed, but Mr Dixit tried hard to teach him the lessons of practical life. But Mr Dixit was also aware of his conscious and asked himself why he let it happen. Yuvika was the only person in his entire career who he had ever admired and adored.
It was another regular morning at the @ink office when Dev’s phone rang. It was Joe.
“Hey Joe, How are you? And where are you?” Dev was very happy to hear his old friend’s voice after a year.
“Hi, Dev. I am good. I have just reached Chitgarh.”
It created silence on Dev’s side. He almost forgot that this question would come. He fumbled, “Okay. Why don’t you come to the office? Let’s have a lunch together.” He tried his best to avoid the question. But he failed.
“Dev, I have come to Yuvika’s house. It is locked. I met Mr Irani here. He said that Yuvika has left Chitgarh. Where is she now?” Joe just wanted to know where Yuvika was as it seemed impossible for her to leave her grandmother’s house. So what makes her leave the house? Was she living in the city? More than just concerned, he was worried now.
It was indeed a pleasure meeting for them after a long one year. But they both felt the absence of Yuvika. Because of her, they became friends, and because of her, Joe could change his perception towards Dev.
After exchanging greetings and well-beings, they sat in Dev’s office. Joe was now working with a construction firm in New York. He looked different too. He had changed his appearance from a college going kid to a professional. He was wearing a white formal shirt with black thin vertical lines and a pair of cotton trouser. But the innocence maintained its place on his face.
They had tea in front of them. Joe again asked, “Where is Yuvika?”
“Well, Joe,” Dev leant forward and started explaining the entire episode that happened a year ago. Joe was listening to him without even a blink. He was neither angry nor sad. But he felt pride for her decision. At the end, he had tears in his eyes. Dev knew how concerned Joe had been for Yuvika. He could understand his emotions. But Dev’s own emotions were different; Yuvika’sas he did not stand by her.
After hearing everything, Joe looked down for a second to clear his eyes and again looked at Dev. “Dev, do you remember I had asked you if she could trust you?”
Dev pressed his lips and said, “Yes. I do.”
“And you know why I had asked you? I did not doubt your intentions, but I was more worried for Yuvika’s emotions. Though she is the strongest person I know, she might not be able to cope with the glitch from the dearest person.”
Dev didn’t say anything. He brushed his hair with fingers. Joe continued, “Where is she now?”
Instead of answering, he pulled out the drawer of his table, took out a magazine and put it on the table in front of Joe. It read ‘THE CLAN’. Joe read it carefully but did not understand why Dev was showing it. He looked at Dev with puzzled eyes. Dev said, “It is Yuvika’s.”
Joe still did not get it. “What do you mean?”
“Yuvika started the magazine. And its office is in Mumbai.”
Joe stared at Dev and then looked at the magazine again. It had the picture of a group of people standing in front of the building which looked like a school. The title below the magazine name said, “Parents, modern victims of the new world.” There were some more titles too, written in smaller fonts and smaller photos. It was the current month issue.
Joe shifted his gaze to Dev and asked, “Is she in Mumbai now?”
“I don’t know.”
“What do you mean you don’t know?”
“After Yuvika left, I went to her house to meet her so many times. But I never succeeded in trying to gain her trust back. I decided to give her some time to rethink. After a month, when I went to her house, I found her house locked. I enquired around and came to know that she had left for Mumbai. I reached there and found her location. It was a huge building. There was an office called People’s. I went there and asked for Yuvika. There I came to know that she was the founder of the magazine. It had been just a month since the magazine and the office was established. But she was not there. I tried to ask about her where-beings. But they told me that they were not allowed to say anything about it. It was just another office as the publishing was done from there. She did not conduct from Mumbai office. But you know what; one thing that made me happier was the fact that she had put all her frustration, anger and energy in the right thing. She created her own empire. Today the magazine is one of the leading magazines of the nation. She made it. She did everything for her magazine which she had always wanted to do with @ink. But unfortunately, she could not do it.” As soon as Dev finished speaking with tearful eyes, Joe burst out, “Why she could not do it?” Now he was angry.
While explaining everything, Dev went into the memories of how passionate Yuvika was and how happy he became to see the success of her magazine. But the angry voice of Joe broke his thoughts. He looked at Joe.
Joe continued, “Dev, you may say that the frustration made her more successful. But you know what; that is just an excuse. And that is all you and your father can make your minds up with. But did you ever try to feel the emotions of that person? How did she do everything on her own? No. She was not only angry. She was in deep pain. And that made her leave this place; her house. All because of you people. She could not work with the compromises which were asked for at every level. I am happy that she left @ink and built her own dream. But I can never ignore the pain she must have gone through.” He leant forward and spoke with a heavier voice, “I am proud of her. I am proud of my sister.”
“Does she know that?” Dev was standing near the table, leaning on the bookshelf on his rights with both the hands in the pockets of his trouser. Joe was still sitting on his chair. He focused on the floor folding hands. Dev had called at the reception not to disturb him for an hour.
Joe did not regret saying the truth. He anyway had to spill the beans one day. He kept it a secret for a reason.
“I am Alok Shroff’s son. He was her uncle. My father was Ashok Uncle’s younger brother. I was too young when I went to boarding school and then lived in New York for many years. When I came back, I wanted to meet Yuvika. It is obvious that she could not recognise me as it’s been many years. And I did not try to give any hint either.”
“Why?” Dev was trying very hard to digest the fact that being her brother, Joe had never even muttered this fact in front of her. How could he even keep quiet? On the other hand, Yuvika had never spoken about her sibling. According to her, she had parents who died in a car accident, and a grandmother who also had left her after a few years.
Old memories were flashing in front of Joe’s eyes. In a few minutes, he had lived his old days again. He remembered the people who used to be his family; some were taken away by the destiny and the rest were drowned into seclusion. He had spent all these years hoping to get his family back.
Dev moved to the table and rested both the hands on it. “Joe, please say something,” he pleaded.
Joe looked up and saw Dev. The confusion had irritated him a lot. He leant up and threw his head back on the chair.
Staring straight into the void, Joe spoke, “It was around 7 in the evening. Yuvika was preparing dinner for our parents. They went to attend the wedding of their close friend’s son. On their way back, my father was driving. He was drunk. Ashok uncle never allowed him driving when he drank. But my father insisted saying that he had not drunk too much. We had called them to ask when they would come home. At that time we came to know that my father was driving very roughly and while talking to us on the phone, Ashok uncle was constantly telling my father to slow down. They did not reach home in time. After a while, we got a phone call from the police informing us about the accident. When we reached the spot, our heart sank. The condition of the car and our parents were horrifying. It still gives me nightmares. We were orphaned in no time. All we had was our grandmother. Yuvika could never forgive my father. Though I was always like her baby, the accident and my father’s stubbornness took her away from me. It left her devastated. She could never give me the love and warmth again. I had not only lost a sister, but I had lost one more pillar of strength from my life. After my grandmother’s death, I went to the boarding school. She never stopped me. Not even for once. That day I realized that I may never get my sister back. In fact, she said, ‘Go ahead and make your life. Don’t look back for me.’ She never came to meet me at the boarding school in those six years.
“Though I was a kid, I understood that she did not want to see me. I really wanted to meet her every time when I performed well in sports or got good marks. I really missed her when I got the scholarship to study at the New York University. I always regret not having her by my side during my every single achievement.
“On the other hand, I was always so worried about her. She was lost in isolation for many years. I could understand her grief; I had no family, neither did she. And to live without family is something beyond anyone’s imagination.
“When I decided to come to India and took up the project here, I chose Chitgarh. The only purpose was to see my sister again; how was she? Was she okay? Was she living a happy life? But when I came, I found that old Yuvika unchanged whom I saw while leaving the house for boarding school, in the same house. Only time had made her a little more conscious. She got indulged in her work. It became her life. She kept herself busy in her small world. She was happy.
“When I came to know about you, I felt relaxed and alert at the same time. Not only because of the brotherly instinct, didn’t I want anyone to hurt her anymore. She is the person who can get affected by the people who are close to her. You were that person. So I wanted to make sure that she could trust you.”
Dev was still standing near the table resting on it with the one hand and the other hand was on his west. He never knew this side of Yuvika. But he felt proud of her that she had constructed herself so well and that’s what made her special. The only thing which had been pinching him was that she was let down; by him.
“Do you love her?” Dev heard the sudden question from Joe. He was taken aback for a few seconds but gathered himself.
“What?” asked the confused Dev. “No.”
Joe smiled and said, “I knew it. Neither does she love you.”
Dev shrugged and smiled, “I know that.”
“But you know what,” Joe rose from his chair, “Esteeming someone is way greater than being in love with that person. Only a few can understand the true value of it.”
Dev felt a glimpse of happiness. “Hey Joe, let’s go to Mumbai and ask for her again. Maybe this time, we get to hear something.”
The office is bigger and well developed. The magazine was a well-established product. It was almost competing with @ink but Yuvika had never let it happen. She had kept it away from @ink in all the ways possible.
“I am sorry Sir. We are really not allowed to give any information to the visitors and customers.” They got the same answer.
“Ma’am,” Joe said, “I am Yuvika Shroff’s brother, Jogendra Shroff.” To that, Dev looked at Joe with a great surprise. He just came to know his real name. But Jogendra? He chuckled to which Joe frowned. Joe whispered, “That’s why it’s Joe. You see!”
“Sir, I need to check this with Ma’am.”
“Well, there is one problem. I have come from New York to surprise her. We are meeting after years. So it would be great if you help me to keep it a surprise too.”
The lady at the reception was in a great dilemma.
“Dev Sir!” They heard a familiar voice from behind. They turned around to find Ragini. She reached them and greeted. They took a sofa in the large hall. Ragini got married and shifted to Mumbai. When People’s was founded, Yuvika employed Ragini’s husband, Shivu in the management department. She also sponsored Ragini’s further education so that she could also get a job in the same magazine along with her husband. They met Shivu in some time.
After a long conversation, Dev had only one question, “Ragini, where is Yuvika?”
“Ma’am is in Goa. Nobody knows her exact address. But one day, over a phone call, she muttered something about the villa and the beach. So I could figure out that she must be living somewhere near the beach.”
“Fantastic,” said Joe, throwing his hands in the air. “Now we can easily find her from some 45 beaches.” He clenched his teeth and looked at Dev. But Dev was relaxed. At least they knew where she was.
Read the consecutive story here: https://faceoffiction.wordpress.com/consecutive-story/
The story is a complete fiction. Any resemblance to the real world is a pure coincidence.