VR is the name. Not Vansh. VR. I run VR Gyms. It may be known as the biggest gym franchise out there. I’m twenty three years of age. Yes, I run one of the biggest franchises in India, and I’m twenty-three. For the past five years, I’ve been living in Delhi, which, strangely enough, you’d have thought I’d gotten used to it for being there that long, but really just made my hatred for the super-city cultivate.
Since I have so much against Delhi, I decided to come back to my hometown and set up a VR Gym there. There are typically 8 – 10 of my gyms per state.
As I try to hail a taxi back home, I realize something.
I did. I have proven to all of them that I could be something important. I have proven that I could do something with my life, other than being a fat lard. Which, at that, I am not. I’ve beefed up to be a six foot four man with quite a bit of muscle, being the complete
opposite of what I’d been in high school, even my personality, of sorts.
I finally came across a taxi.
“Rose Residences please,” I say.
“You got it,” the man says as he programs the address into his GPS.
You may be thinking that I am a player because I’m good-looking now. But I’m not. Sure, I may be handsome, but I certainly am not a player, even though I slept with my fair share of girls just under a year ago. Sure, I may have a big ego, but that doesn’t mean I’m rude. Sure, I’ve gone on a few dates, but nothing serious. Just trying them out I suppose, seeing if we could possibly ever have a future, which obviously none of them have been successful or I’d have a ring on my finger. Then again, I’m only 23 years old.
The cabbie pulls up to my new house. My dream house, ever since I was a kid. It’s pretty big. Big enough for a family I hope to have one day to share it with. I take out my suitcase, the only thing I’ve brought, and pay the cabbie.
A few weeks ago, I had a mattress and a comforter shipped here and put into the master bedroom so I’d actually have a place to sleep when I got here. I go around the house, exploring. This house is perfect. There are three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a nice kitchen, and a large family room.
Since it’s only nine o’clock, I decide to take a little stroll around town, maybe stop at the bar and grab a drink. Find some of my old friends.
So since it’s July right now, I walk into the warm night air without a coat in my short sleeves and jeans.
As I saunter around town, so many memories come flooding back to me. All the things I did with Riddhima. Oh, so many great memories with her. The night I got gooped on was the last night I ever saw her. I hope she’s not here. Harsh, I know. But the only reason I say is because I hope she got out of this shit-hole.
I walk into the bar as it thrives on this Friday night. I remain at the door, taking in my surroundings. I immediately spot them. Ishani and Angre.
I walk behind them, weaving through the crowd, and wrap my arms around their shoulders.
“Sir, I believe you need to lay off the drinks a little.”
Angre turns to me. “Listen, bud, I can do whatever-holy shiit.” “Oh my god!” Ishani yells.
I smirk. “VR. Pleasure to meet you.” I stick my hand out.
Angre swats it out of the way and he and Ishani give me a hug. When they pull back, Ishani asks, “VR? That’s what you’re going by now?”
I shrug. “My name brings back too many memories.”
We talk for a little more, exchanging numbers along the way.
Due to Ishani’s lack of speech, I notice her looking over behind the bar making faces and hand gestures at someone.
I turn my head only to see a black head of hair going down. I walk over and lean just a little so my head can see over the bar. Riddhima is there. Riddhima Kapoor. The girl who broke my heart. The girl who still has it.
I smile. “Riddhima Kapoor.”
She stands up and blushes, wiping the imaginary dust off of her jeans. “Vansh Rai Sighania.”
“I go by VR now, but you can still call me Vansh.” I wink.
“I still go by Riddhima..” She winks back. She jumps over the counter and hugs me.
“Oh my god,” she says into my ear, “I can fit my arms around you.” She chuckles, as do I.
“Yeah. Things change,” I say as we pull back.
“Yes. Definitely.” She looks me up and down.
I arrogantly smirk. “Like what you see?”
She scoffs and playfully rolls her eyes. “So, how long are you in town for?” she asks.
“I actually just moved back here.”
“No way! That’s great! Where’s your girlfriend?” She looks over my shoulder.
“Don’t have one.” I shrug.
“What?” She asks in disbelief. “Surely a hottie like you would have a girlfriend by now.” She smirks.
“Nope.” I still smirk. “What about you? I’m sure you get a lot of guys hitting on you at the bar…” I point out.
She nods. “Yeah. No boyfriend, though. I only work here part-time. I’m going to college. If you’re wondering why now, it’s because I’ve had to save up. It’s been brutal.” She grimaces.
“I know how it feels. What are you going to college for?”
“Well, how about we go out to lunch tomorrow and you can find out?” she asks with a flicker in her eye. She fondles the hem of her tight shirt while still maintaining eye contact with me.
Then I think. Lunch? That’s a one-way ticket to the friendzone.
“I don’t know… Lunch?” I question. “How about dinner? I kind of need tomorrow to unpack, if that’s alright.”
She raises an eyebrow. “Fine. Here’s my number.” She takes a permanent marker out of her back pocket and begins to write on my hand.
“Man, reminds me just of high school. Wait, never mind, I couldn’t get a girl’s digits.” I smirk.
She slaps my chest and rolls her eyes. “You-”
“Vansh!” someone exclaims.
Kabir Sharma. He’s already balding and is currently drunk. Also, he’s wearing his letterman jacket, and a wife beater tank top, which in addition shows off his beer belly. Wow, he must be living the dream, just like he was back in not-so-good ol’ days that I recall as high school.
“It’s VR now, Kabir.”
“Hey man, you got some cash?”
I get out my wallet and give him just that. Then, quietly I say, “Look what I’ve become.” I smirk. “And now you’re…” I look him up and down. “Living the dream.”
He gives a fake laugh and walks away.
I turn back to Riddhima.
“I better get back there.” She smiles. “Call me tomorrow.” “Will do.”
It’s six o’clock, so I decide to call Riddhima. I’ve put it off long enough.
I dial her digits off of my hand and wait.
“Riddhima Kapoor here,” she answers.
“Hey, Riddhima, it’s Vansh.”
“Hey, finally working up the balls to call me?” she teases, when she’s actually making the correct assumption.
“Good one, Riddhima,” I say sarcastically. “So, I was thinking we could go to that one restaurant we’ve always wanted to go to-”
“Wellllll,” she says, interrupting me, “I was thinking maybe we could just go to the dhaba? You know our dhaba.”
“Really?” I ask.
“Yeah. We’ve shared so much history there! We went there every Saturday for breakfast, for god’s sake. Please?”
I let out a breath. “Fine. I can pick you up since I just got a car today.”
“But you don’t know where my apartment is.” She chuckles. “Fair point. Where is it?”
“The address is Pearl Apartments, apartment 6.”
“Yes shit?” She laughs. “Why?”
“I’m on Rose Residencies.”
“Hm, guess you’ll be seeing more of me, huh?”
“Please, it doesn’t matter the distance with you.”
“It did when you moved,” she mumbles. “So, what time?” “I was thinking around seven?”
“Perfect. I’ll see you then.” She hangs up.
An hour later, I jumped into my Lamborghini. I’m just going to say it, I’m pretty rich, but I don’t like to show it off by buying a bunch of sports cars, watches, and mansions. I just happen to like this car a lot, so I bought it today.
I slowly drove along looking for her place. Once I find it, I park alongside the road.
I get out and go to apartment number six. I walk up to the door and knock three times. The door immediately opens and reveals a frowning Riddhima.
“What’s wrong?” I ask.
“What? What time is it?”
She gets her iPhone out of her pocket and opens the screen. 7:01. I playfully glare. “C’mon, Panda.”
She smiles and steps out. I finally notice what she’s wearing and my jaw seems to slack a little without her noticing. Jeans with an extremely tight crop-top and heels. The jeans are a dark blue and her white crop-top that reveals about three inches above her waist says “Save Rock n Roll” in black lettering. And the heels. God, the heels. Heels with a casual outfit are pretty hot. The shoes are only about 3 inches high if I had to guess, but the heel is skinny. She’s never been one to go an extreme though. Then the makeup. Only mascara and minimal lipstick. I hate caked-face girls, to be honest, even though I’ve dated several of them. Then the hair. She curled it, and it looks beautiful. It takes the breath out of me straight from my lungs.
“Like what you see?” she asks, smirking, knowing she quoted what I said last night.
Except I don’t scoff and roll my eyes like she did. “Very much so, actually.”
Scoffing and rolling her eyes must be her thing now, because she does it again as soon as the words leave my mouth.
When we reach my car, I open the door for her. I go around to the other side and climb in.
“Vansh, I really hope you didn’t steal this.” She chuckles.
I smile. “Yeah. Totally. I snuck into the dealership today and stole the keys and drove off.”
She rolls her eyes. “So, what, now you’re a big hotshot with tons of money and sports cars and chicks and fancy alcohol and you have your own peasant servant?” she asks with a smile on her face, but I can tell she’s nervous about my answer.
“No, Riddhima. Goddammit. I’m calling you Kapoor now. Anyway, if I
were like that, I certainly wouldn’t be living here. If I were a rich, toffee-nosed dick, I’d be living in a penthouse in Delhi.”
“And I suppose you weren’t cut out for that life?”
I look over at her for a short two seconds while I drive with a smirk planted on my face. “I ain’t about that life.”
She scoffs and rolls her eyes. “How come you’re not, though? You could have all the girls you wanted, but you choose to come back to this shitty-yet-amazing place? Why? And sure, you may not like the big city, but, c’mon, you could still buy a mansion nearby. And seriously, you could be hanging out with all of the other rich people, yet here we are; you and I going out to our favorite old dhaba, as if we are sixteen again. Plus, with me of all the people. I know I ramble, but I’m just trying to put everything out there before you decide to actually hang out with me, because I am not rich. You and I are hardly even alike anymore,” she finishes.
I laugh as I park and turn off the car in front of the diner.
“Tell me, since when have we ever been considerably alike?” I ask with a smirk etched on my face.
She smiles up at me. “That’s a good point you have there.” Both of us get out and head inside.
We take our seats, and I notice Kapoor picks the place we sat at every single time.
As soon as we sit, we are confronted by a middle-aged woman.
“Oh, I remember you two.” She claps her hands. “Except you.” She pinches my cheek. “Vansh, you’ve beefed-up quite a bit, haven’t you? And my Riddhima,” Mrs. Bhatia says while turning to her, “still beautiful as ever. I have a surprise for both of you.” She walks away.
Kapoor and I look at each other and smile.
“I loved her. She was and is the best,” I say.
“So, you’re going to college?”
She nods. “To be a personal trainer.”
“Maybe if all goes well tonight, I’ll give you a job at VR Gyms.” I wink.
“That’d be awfully convenient.” She smirks. “Don’t you think for being your best friend and all I should get a higher paycheck?”
I laugh. “Maybe.”
We sat in silence for a while.
“Why did you disappear on me five years ago?” she asks suddenly. I take a deep breath. “I had to get away.”
“Yeah. Obviously. From me?”
I shake my head slowly. “Not at all, Kapoor, not at all. I missed you. A lot actually. But I had to get away. Not from you, but everything. My home, my enemies, my hometown, myself. I had to stop being Vansh, and I need you to understand that, Kapoor. I couldn’t handle being fat anymore. I didn’t do it for others, but for myself. And, in all honesty, I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere if I were still fat, because in the world we live in, you get judged a whole hell of a lot. But if you want me to tell you I regret my decision of leaving this place, I can’t say I do. Yes, I missed you and Ishani and Angre… but I wouldn’t trade anything for this moment in my life back with my best friend. Money doesn’t make me happy, Kapoor. That’s why I moved back here. I wasn’t happy. And now look at me. I’m just jolly and dandy now that I get to see you again.” I chuckle and smile.
“I get it,” she whispers, staring at the wall opposite of us. “I get why you had to leave, but I’m glad you came back.” She turns toward me and smiles. She was, is, and always will be my best friend, no matter the distance between us.
“Alrighty, here we go,” Mrs. Bhatia says. “One plate Paneer Paratha for Riddhima here and Chole Bhature for Vansh.” She smiles sweetly.
“Thanks, Mrs. Bhatia.” I smile up at her, even though I know I won’t be feeling well later since I haven’t had oily food in my system in years.
She smiles and leaves.
I eat, even though I know it’ll go against me later.
We soon finished, but I could only handle about half of it. I let out a big breath.
“What’s wrong?” asks Kapoor.
“I just haven’t had oily food in years, so this’ll probably demolish my system.”
Her eyebrows rise. “Really? I can’t believe you didn’t say anything.” She smiles.
I shake my head. “How can you say no to Mrs. Bhatia?”
She shakes her head. “You’d think after being buffed-up and in Delhi for five years, you’d be a jerk. Still sweet as ever. And the best friend ever.” She smiles, as do I. But there’s one difference: hers is real.
Yes, I’m glad that Kapoor and I are in contact again, but I can’t help but wish we were something more. Something more than “just friends,”
like we’ve always been.
“How did everything taste?” Mrs. Bhatia asks as she sets the check on our table.
“Delicious,” Kapoor answers, “VR over here wasn’t very hungry though, so he couldn’t finish.”
“Oh, that’s quite alright,” she says with a smile on her face as she takes our plates. “You two have a good night,” she bids her goodbye since we take the check up to a counter.
“Crap, she didn’t give us two checks,” Kapoor says as she digs around in her pockets for her wallet since she refuses to carry around a purse.
“Don’t worry about it. I would’ve paid both of them if it were two separate ones anyway.”
She sighs. “Fine. I’m not going to argue with you.”
“Good.” I smile.
As we drive home, I think about kissing her at her doorstep, but then decide against it.
I walk her to her doorstep, like I always did back in the day.
“Just like old times, right?” she asks with a smile directed towards me.
I nod. “Exactly like the old times.” My head leans in, my heart taking over my mind.
Kapoor stands on her tiptoes and wraps her around my waist, pulling me into a hug.
Looks like I’ve picked up exactly where I left off.