Ties that bind
Umesh, Sanjog and Sarita were watching a new Amir Khan movie at Kumari Hall. Umesh was making fun of the acting while Sanjog and Sarita were engrossed in the plot. Amir Khan always made hit movies. Sarita was a big Amir Khan fan. Sanjog and Sarita had been together for past three years since they joined Amrit Science college and they were in the same lab group, separating salt out of a acid-base experiment. Umesh had always been quick to provide comic relief in any occasion. Umesh and Sanjog were childhood friends due to the fact that they lived in the same vicinity and that they were family friends.
Their childhood could not have gone any smoother. They went to the same school. Had a same circle of friend and even lived close by. They did everything together. Everyone in their neighborhood envied their friendship. Umesh was the more frivolous one than Sanjog. He always wanted to make everyone laugh so always trying to do some antic to lighten up any situation. Sanjog was bit more serious but when he was with Umesh they were always in a jolly mood.
Sarita was the only daughter of a retired engineer. Her dad was one of the first engineers to open a multi-national agency that catered to high rise buildings in Kathmandu and India. All of them came from well to do families.
After the movie, they went to the cafe in the theater and ordered some food. Umesh and Sanjog both order plate and half each of buff momo, while Sarita ordered a chicken burger. The cafe was abuzz with activity. People were talking about the movie plot which some found to be cryptic while some felt they understood what the movie was trying to say.
"Ringggggggggggggggggg", Sarita's phone rang amidst their feeding frenzy.
"I'm at the theater, having some snack." She said. It was her brother. He was in the area so he said he would give her a ride home.
"I'll be out in 15 minutes." She hung up the phone.
Umesh and Sanjog had come in Sanjog's motorcycle, and Sarita had taken a cab to the movie. Sanjog was a designated driver because Umesh didn't have a license yet. Although, he used to drive his brothers motorcycle whenever he needed to use it. After finishing the meal, they walked outside for cigarette. Sarita took a drag in the corner and they were just chit chatting waiting for her brother Pranish. The scorching sun felt good coming out of the theater with AC. The peanut vendors were resting in between movie shows. Although she never smoked by herself, she took a drag or two out of Sanjog's cigarette when they went out. Today she was dressed up in a while kurta suruwal with flower design on top made of beads. Some of the glitters would catch the eye of an unsuspecting passerby and they would squint to get a glimpse of the wearer. She was 5ft 2inches, a little over the average Nepali girls' height but she always knew how to carry herself. She gave an aura of confidence not only for herself, but for everyone she interacted with, because she was very unassuming. She had fair skin, lovely eyes and a great figure.
Although, Umesh and Sanjog jokes about everything, Umesh never said a word about Sarita, ever since she started being a part of their group. It used to be just him and Sanjog. They would talk silly about other girls and boys just for laughs. After Sarita came along, nothing really changed because she was so easygoing and she would join them in ridiculing other boys and girls in their class. For Umesh, Sarita was a friend and he had a special respect for her because she was his best friend's girl.
The sun was beginning to peek through her scarf under the smoky hallow of the smoke rings from Sanjog, when Pranesh showed up outside the street on his Alto car. Those cars really looked small but inside they seemed to have large enough space for six people easily.
After saying goodbye to the boys, Sarita hopped into her car. Umesh and Sanjog watched the car leave with a spray of dust into the rays of bright sunlight.
"I have to do some homework for tomorrow", Sanjog reminded himself and was about to put the keys on his motorbike, when Umesh grabbed the keys and sat on the driver's seat. Sanjog sat on the back seat and they were cruising back to Sanepa, where they lived.
"Lost of dust", Sanjog was thinking as he balanced himself in the backseat and squirmed his lips up to try to cover his nostrils, as Umesh was maneuvering into gallis to get home quicker than to take the main road which was always jammed up.
Sanjog thought of how beautiful Sarita looked as she looked back and waved to them, *** BOOOOM *** *** CRASH *** suddenly the motorcycle seemed to lose it's balance and as Sanjog was falling he saw an old man in front. The next instance, they were all spread on the muddy road. The old guy wearing dhaka topi and Nepali dress had also fallen down. It all happened so quickly but Umesh was up right away, realizing the gravity of the situation. Then Sanjog was up. The old man did not get up.
Umesh quickly said, "If the cops come I am screwed coz I don't even have license." Sanjog said without thinking, "I'll say I was driving."
The road was an isolated patch, but soon people started to gather and some policemen who were in the area showed up and asked them what happened. "We just slipped on the mud." said Sanjog. The police tried to check up on the old man but he was slumped on the ground.
As soon as they saw that the old man was serious. They asked, "Who was driving?"
When Sanjog came forward they grabbed him and said they will need to keep him till they find out about the old man. Umesh looked at Sanjog with tears in his eyes. Sanjog said it will be fine, "Don't tell anyone it was you who was driving because you don't have a license and it will be even worse." In what seemed like eternity, the ambulance came took the old man away in a stretcher. Umesh called up his mama who was a police inspector and told him that the police took Sanjog away because of the accident.
Because of the severity of the accident, the inspector was not able to put any pressure to release Sanjog. According to the law, he could not be out on bail before they knew the fate of the old man who was hit.
Umesh felt like a zombie as he went home. He slumped in his bed. Thoughts were running faster in his mind than he could process. He stole some sleeping pills from his fathers drawers and gulped them down but still he could not fall asleep. He felt like his head was going to explode. Just then his phone rang, it was Sarita. He did not know if he should pick it up or not. He did not want to lie about what happened but he remembered what Sanjog said last.
He picked up the phone and heard Sarita crying on the other end. "How did it happen?" She sobbed. "It all happened too quickly. I think it will be fine." Umesh said.
"Bhimsen Sapkota, 72 died of internal injuries", read the Kantipur Times newspaper in page 7 where they listed local incidents. "Sanjog KC to be indicted for negligent homicide"
Umesh could not believe his eyes. Things had taken a big turn in his life. He stood paralyzed with guilt yet there was nothing he could do. Sanjog was in deep trouble since he had already accepted his guilt in front of the police and the other witnesses.
In spite of everything, Sanjog seemed to be in a light mood when Umesh and Sarita went together to visit him. He seemed to take the severity of the situation too lightly. Maybe he was going through too much and trying to hide his pain, Umesh thought.
Days went by quickly, and everyone was waiting for the final verdict. The lawyer that Sanjog's family had hired had said that there would be very light sentencing if any because Sanjog had been an example in school, college and he had never had any altercations before. Plus, the lawyer said "This was a terrible accident. The road condition was to blame."
Umesh went to visit Sanjog by himself one day. He was tired of keeping the truth and told Sanjog that he was about to expose the truth. Sanjog did not want Umesh to tell the truth. He said, "People will think you are doing this to save me, the police already have my confession so it is not going to work." Umesh was not sure if he should wait till the verdict was out.
One day Sarita called Umesh and said she was feeling very depressed. Her family had gone to visit her grandmother in Tansen and she was home alone because she had to prepare for the final exam. She had initially decided to withdraw from college but her parents had convinced her that was not a good thing to do. Her dad had said "It is good to keep your mind occupied. At least you can concentrate on something else."
It was better said than done, but she tried hard. No one could have imagined how her straightforward life could have changed. She felt pangs of self pity. "I wish I hadn't asked them to go to the movie that day." She blamed herself.
Umesh came to her house and tried to console her, trying to tell her that everything will be all right. Both of them were going through a terrible ordeal and they found consolation in each others arms as tears flowed through their eyes. They had never hugged before, and at a sad time like this, it seems to give them peace to hold each other. Sarita smelled very good and Sarita felt a sense of relief in hugging Umesh. Before Umesh realized what was going on, he felt an arousal that was stronger than any other emotions he had. The arousal had traveled onto Sarita as well as she felt Umesh's manhood rubbing against her light maxi. Their cheeks started rubbing against each other and their lips touched each other. Their eyes were closed as they started kissing each other. Sarita's hug became tighter as Umesh's hand started to rub her back and started moving lower and lower. Her legs arched forward to feel his manhood between her legs.
Few minutes later, they were both lying in bed naked looking up at the ceiling. Both unable to process what just happened. There was an element of satisfaction within both of them. They appeared more calm. They were holding each others hand.
There was still two more months before the final verdict. Both of them wanted to see Sanjog out soon, yet they continued to enjoy each other's company. Sometimes Umesh would feel pangs of guilt but what could he do? He felt like he was a prisoner of circumstance. Sometimes he would wonder how Sarita would feel if she knew he was the driver. The thoughts were too painful and it was just easier to ignore.
After becoming physically close, it was difficult for Umesh to keep a cool profile when he went to visit Sanjog. Deep inside, he knew what he had done was wrong. But what had happened had already happened and he still wanted more of it. It was wrong so wrong, especially because Sanjog was a childhood friend, but Umesh was not able to control his physical urges.
Sarita cared deeply for Sanjog and felt the pain of his separation, yet the development with Umesh was something that provided her with some relief and pleasure. She realized it was wrong but was not able to stop once an opportunity rose for the two of them to be joined in blissful union.
Sanjog sensed an abrupt change in behavior in both Umesh and Sarita when they came to visit him but he did not want to make any assumptions. Deep in his heart somewhere, he wondered if it was possible for Umesh and Sarita to get involved physically. There was no answer to that and he berated himself for even entertaining such a doubt.
TWO MONTHS LATER
The courtroom was filled with people to hear the final verdict on Sanjog's case. The lawyer representing Sanjog had done his homework. He had even convinced the family of Bhimsen Sapkota to request the judge for leniency. Bhimsem Sapkota had lived a full and great life but towards the end of his time, he had suffered two strokes, in addition to have serious diabetic and blood pressure conditions. The widow of Bhimsen Sapkota had thanked the God for reducing his suffering.
After the lunch recess, the Judge declared a clemency ruling. "In view of the fact that the family of the deceased have requested leniency, and due to the fact that the defendant's has never had any altercations with the law and that he has already served 3 months in prison, we have decided to levy a fine of Rs.10,00,000 or a 6 months prison sentence."
Everyone was jubilant. A young person like Sanjog was free to live his life. What happened was going to be a distant past. There was no problem paying the Rs.10,00,000. Everyone sighed relief. Sanjog was a happy man. Umesh and Sarita were very happy that his best friend and her boyfriend were free.
THREE MONTHS LATER
Sanjog, Umesh and Sarita were at a restaurant in Thamel sipping some beer. Some friends were supposed to join them later. Sanjog had his arms around Sarita. Sarita was holding his hand. Umesh was cracking some joke about the girls sitting in the next table.
As far as Sanjog was concerned everything was back to normal. As far as Umesh and Sarita were concerned, everything was back to normal. Nothing had happened between them. They never spoke about it or made any hint about those two and half months.
Life was back to normal.