“Run away from home? Why? What are you talking about?” Hitesh exclaimed.
“I am serious bro. There’s nothing left for me there. I am sick of this business stuff, which I have no interest in whatsoever. I want a life of my own, and make my own money.”
Hitesh realised that Tanuj was quite serious. Tanuj had come to him often when he needed to share his pent-up feelings, which acquainted him of the happenings in Tanuj’s life. Well nothing really did happen much. He basically had no adventure in his life, and had even given up on relationships when he realised that he himself did not have much to look forward to. Whenever Hitesh had tried to set up a date for him, he would budge, citing the reason that a guy who cannot find his own way in life does not deserve to accompany another person in her journey.
“It’s okay Tanuj, it feels like that sometimes. You will get over it. Give yourself some time,” advised Hitesh. “You know what? You need a break. Take few days off from your dad’s office and go somewhere.”
Tanuj knew nothing would change in few days, but he still considered the suggestion. After all, leaving home would not be such an easy decision to make. He would not have a place to live, except at Hitesh’s, but he did not want to depend on his best friend, not to mention interfere in his active social life. Moreover, it is not that he would get a job right away with his average graduation grades, and he hardly knew how to cook a meal for himself. Of course he could use his father’s influence to get a job, but doing that would be the worst possible way to rebel against the life he was leading. As these thoughts crowded in his mind, Tanuj felt a sting of self-pity. He had almost made up his mind about leaving home and being independent, but now he was sitting on his blessed friend’s couch, reconsidering his decision, just because he wasn’t capable enough to fend for himself.
“I guess I need the coffee after all,” he said with a sad smile.
“Ready in two minutes,” Hitesh smiled back. “In fact you can join me for a trip I am taking this weekend to Samarganj, a village around 25 kilometres from here for a rural photography experience.”
“Come on dude!” smirked Tanuj. “When you were saying about a trip what I had in mind was Goa or some other fun place. What is this Samarganj you are talking about?”
“Your wish Tanuj. But you never know what turn your life takes at which place.” Hitesh finished his sentence with a wink.
Tanuj assured his friend that he will consider the offer and they spent the rest of the evening with casual conversations over few cups of coffee.
Tanuj reluctantly returned home only to be reprimanded by his father. “What do you think you were doing till midnight outside? I was waiting for you the whole time because I wanted to explain to you certain things about tomorrow’s meeting. You had even switched your phone off!”
“Dad I was just at Hitesh’s place. Can’t I have some free time of my own? Yes I did switch my phone off and that was to avoid having these dull conversations with you,” Tanuj retorted.
“I think it was a mistake to give you such an important position in the office. Look at you! Twenty-four and no sense of responsibility. Now it’s very late, so go to sleep. We will somehow manage tomorrow.”
“I am happy Dad that you at least realise your mistake now. And I am sure you will manage very well without me.”
Tanuj turned away from his father as fast as he could, climbed up the stairs to his bedroom and slammed the door as hard as possible. While he was a child, he never felt that his parents were bad people. Like all children, he always thought that what they did was for his betterment. But somehow there was this aura of dominance in the house. He realised that first when his mother, who was working happily in a bank, had to quit because his father wanted her to stay at home and bring up the kids in a way that would uphold the reputation of their family. He did not want to leave the kids with babysitters because he didn’t trust their association. And now probably he was also disappointed with his wife because his son didn’t turn out to be the way he wanted. Tanuj did not know whose fault it was – his father’s, for not paying attention to his interests as a child which could eventually bloom if catered to, his mother’s, who spent half of her life trying to make sure that her children were brought up exactly how her husband wanted, or his own, because he should have surely figured his life out by the age of twenty-four.
Tanuj couldn’t sleep. He kept turning on his bed until he picked up his phone at ten past three in the morning.
“Hello! Hitesh! Sorry to call at this hour. But when are you leaving for Samarganj tomorrow? I will bring my car!”
Hitesh was clearly in a deep sleep. “What? Oh! Good.. Be at my place at seven,” his voice was groggy on the other side. “But bring your Swift, not your Mercedes. People will freak out.”
As Tanuj muttered a thanks, he sensed that his friend was back to sleep on the other side. He set his alarm for fifteen past six and felt happy for the first time about waking up early. It wasn’t Goa, but it was his first taste of freedom, his first detour that might somehow show him the right direction. His heart told him so.
(To be continued…)