In the middle of the flight, Kiara woke up to go to the washroom. When she returned she was too lazy to push her way into the middle seat. And with Rishaan readily offering to shift seats, the seating arrangement changed. With 20 minutes still remaining for the flight to land, a sleep starved Kiara took another power nap, this time holding Rishaan’s right hand more firmly. Rishaan’s other hand though, nervously moved to touch Diya’s. Her heart skipped a beat. Diya pulled her hand away. But a defiant Rishaan held her wrist again, this time firmly and more reassuringly. The changing behavioural dynamics between the three perhaps gave out a foreboding of what was to come in Goa. When the flight landed at the Dabolim Airport, Rishaan felt uncanny… his excitement seemed replaced by an unknown fear that he found very difficult to decipher.
Kiara’s dad had arranged perfectly for the trip. He, himself showed keen interest in all the minute details and planned the trip. Though this wasn’t the first time he had planned a trip for anyone, but this was the first time his daughter had come on a vacation with her boyfriend. And if Mr. Raheja couldn’t bring a smile on his daughter’s face then his mammoth Raheja group of hotels empire was futile. The driver was waiting for them at the arrivals and they headed for the Raheja Hotels in lavish BMW M series. These arrangements made Rishaan forget about all the worries and his unknown fear. Rishaan and Kiara had got the empire suite at the top floor and Diya’s suite was adjacent to them. ‘Don’t worry Diya, we will find a guy for you in Goa.’ chuckled Kiara. Diya just smiled and went into her suite.
In the evening Kiara planned for the dinner at Hotel Calangute Towers near Calangute beach. ‘Rishaan, dad always tells me its good to go and dine at other hotels to know where we stand and we can always learn a thing or two and improve our methods. And this is the reason Raheja group of hotels is now a big name in tourism industry.’ Kiara went to Diya and asked her to get ready. But Diya was too tired and decided to skip dining outside. So Rishaan and Kiara headed for the dinner. ‘This is so perfect! I wish Diya would have joined us. Rishaan, she is quite reserved and doesn’t mix with people easily, she is an introvert. I hope you both get along well during the trip. This is the sole purpose of bringing you both here. Bringing in the new year is a mere excuse. I just want my childhood best friend and boyfriend to gel with each other nicely’ Kiara said. ‘I ‘ll try my best to not disappoint you, Milady’ laughed Rishaan. Rishaan and Kiara were dating for almost an year. Kiara had found her soul mate in him. Rishaan wasn’t as wealthy as Kiara, his dad was a small time cloth merchant, but he had a very attractive personality and a genuine nature. They both had met at a club in Mumbai. Both being frequent visitors in that club, their interactions increased which grew into friendship and blossomed into love. Rishaan had also managed to impress Mr. Raheja with his strong work ethics, genuineness and integrity and he employed him as an assistant manager in the Mumbai zone. The post of manager was enjoyed by Diya’s father. He was one of the few trusted employees of Mr. Raheja and had family like relations with him. Kiara and Diya had grown up together and were childhood best friends. They studied together till high school and after that Kiara went abroad to complete her MBA while Diya continued her studies in a SoBo college.
‘ Kiara, my family wants me to settle down well before tying the knots with you. So I guess we will have to wait for 2-3 years before taking this propinquity further’ said Rishaan hesitantly. Kiara held his hand and assured him, ‘ Rishaan, I am not in a hurry for a nuptial bond, your love for me is chaste and I don’t need any marital agreement to ensure this. I am ready to wait. There was something about Kiara that always casted a spell on Rishaan. He found it difficult to decide whether he was lucky to infiltrate in her life or not.
The itinerary for the next two days was well planned. It covered Anjuna, Vagator beaches and the clubs of Baga and the river and casino cruises in old Goa. And much to Kiara’s delight, Diya started opening up with Rishaan. Though they didn’t converse much, the awkwardness between them was disappearing. But Kiara failed to notice that there was an unusual chemistry between Diya and Rishaan. Without conversing much, they understood what the other person wanted to say, something which is uncommon for people who have met each other only a month ago. But with New Year’s eve only 12 hours away, one can’t blame her for being so absent-minded.
The two days tight schedule had dog-tired Kiara and it just took a glass of wine to make her hit the hay. But Rishaan couldn’t sleep, tomorrow was the D-day, which would change the life of all the three forever. He felt restless and went to Diya’s suite, she was awake too, much to his relief. ‘Of course, I ‘ll be awake. I haven’t forgotten the purpose for which we have come to Goa, unlike you. You are too busy enjoying the dalliance with your ladylove. I had to make arrangements for everything alone. She has swept you off your feet, hasn’t she?’
‘You are being unreasonably rude, Diya. It was you, who wanted me to date her, much against my wish.’
‘it was only so that we could carry on with our plans smoothly but you took this drama a tad too seriously. I never asked you to exchange rings and plan your future with her. I saw how she held your hand in the flight.’
‘ Everything happened in a flow, I had no control over certain things.’
‘Right, you don’t have any control over your heart. Otherwise you wouldn’t love two girls at the same time!’ Diya was very furious.
‘I haven’t come here to argue, tomorrow is New Year’s eve, what is the plan of action?’
‘I am very miffed right now Rishaan, everything has been arranged, I ‘ll talk to you tomorrow.’
Finally, the last morning of 2015 arrived. Kiara was excited as she was going to host the new year party in her hotel for the first time. This Raheja scion was ready to step in her dad’s shoes soon. Diya was happy as well as restless. Finally the most awaited day had arrived. She had put everything at stake- her love, friendship to make the plan work. Rishaan loved Diya more than his life. And it was the result of this blind love that he was ready to go to any extent for her. They had met each other during a trek 3 years back and fell in love instantly. It was a clandestine affair as Diya’s father was against the love phenomenon. She had hidden it even from her childhood best friend Kiara. She messaged Rishaan to gear up for today as they have to execute the plan in the evening. Rishaan had mixed feelings.He didn’t know whether he should be happy or grieve because this fake love drama would end today. He knew from the start that his relationship with Kiara was merely a drama and part of the plan. But his heart refused to oblige, it had fallen strongly for Kiara.
The New Year’s celebrations started in the evening. A hooded figure approached Diya and passed a file to her. The papers were ready! Just one sign from Kiara and 70% of Raheja industries share will go in the hands of Diya and Rishaan. She signalled Rishaan to bring Kiara in her suite. Rishaan brought her in the suite under the pretext of giving her a surprise and she readily followed him. As soon as she entered the room, two hooded men held her captive and Diya appeared before her. ‘What the hell is going on Diya? Why have you held me captive?’ Kiara shouted. ‘We won’t cause you any harm if you sign on these papers Kiara.’ Diya explained. ‘What? Which papers?’ Kiara didn’t understand anything. ‘These are the property papers Kiara and it is written over here that you are willing to transfer 70% of your shares to Rishaan and me.’
‘Rishaan!! You too!? Even you are involved with her? How??’ Diya laughed looking at Kiara’s perplexed face and clarified, ‘Rishaan is my boyfriend and not yours, baby. We have been dating for the last 3 years. He double-dated me with you but he had my consent. I had asked him to go and romance you and he can go to any extent for me. Because he loves me and not you.’ Kiara couldn’t understand initially but things started making sense later on. Her entire world came tumbling down. The two most important people of her life backstabbed her. She didn’t know how to react. She hated herself for being so vulnerable and getting stuck in their trap. Rishaan didn’t say a word. He wasn’t a thug, so wasn’t Diya but her ambitions had blinded her. She couldn’t distinguish between good and bad.
The hotel security sensed some foul play as the CC TV cameras of the top floor weren’t working. They informed the manager and they came on the top floor to check if everything is alright. They knocked the door of Kiara’s suite and Kiara immediately cried for help. The guards banged open the door, the manager sensed the situation and asked his guards to capture Diya, Rishaan and their men. The tables had turned now. The ball was in Kiara’s court. It was the time to clear all the doubts. She asked Diya the reason why she had turned so bitter and nurtured so much hatred for her.
‘My jealousy began right from the childhood’, started Diya, ‘ Wherever we used to go, people only noticed you, I used to get obscured under the brightness of Raheja surname. You were a big daddy’s spoilt child and I came from a humble background. My dad was just a mere employee in your giant Raheja empire. We were equally talented, in fact I used to outshine you in certain aspects. But still I was always addressed beneath you. And this had lower my self esteem to a great extent. And I couldn’t tolerate being the second best. And later on when you went abroad, I rediscovered myself. I found there was so much to me and people finally started noticing me and praising my good looks and talent. There wasn’t any Kiara to lower my worth. I met Rishaan, we fell in love. Those 3 years were the blissful phase of my life. We planned to settle down but my ambitions didn’t co-operate, my mind wasn’t ready to live a middle-class life of an employee. Hence, I fetched a plan. I learnt that you are coming back and uncle has transferred all his property in your name as your 24th birthday gift. So I decided to use Rishaan to get all the details of the company and later on usurp your wealthy possessions. And we had to execute this plan here in Goa. This was an ideal opportunity.’
Kiara looked at Rishaan in disgust. The same face which was the reason for her happiness, which reflected humbleness and innocence, appeared like a hound who was hungry for money. Rishaan stood their quietly not daring to look at Kiara. ‘Rishaan didn’t want to join me in this plan initially’, continued Diya, ‘ but I emotionally blackmailed him and he had to oblige.’ Kiara was totally shattered. She was completely unaware of this jealousy and envy that was brewing in Diya. She had loved her liked her own sister and this is what she had got in return. Kiara reasoned with her that she never wanted Diya to feel less important or worthless. She had already planned to give 40% of her shares to Diya as a token of her friendship and also because she thought Diya deserved it. This statement stunned Diya and she looked at Kiara with baffled eyes. Kiara further added that she would have willingly given half of her property to Diya if she would have asked for it. Because, Diya was the only person with whom Kiara opened fully and found solace. Kiara reminisced their childhood memories which broke Diya. She realized that she had committed an eternal crime by breaking her best friend’s trust. Rishaan watched all this in dismay. Diya approached him and said, ‘Rishaan I have sensed your affection towards Kiara. I know I can’t make up for my mistakes. I am very guilty. But the only way I can lessen the burden of my crime would be if I free you from the shackles of my love. You can go to Kiara and this time lovr her without any restrictions or bondage. ‘
‘No, Diya’, Kiara protested, ‘ you may have forgotten the duties of a best friend but I haven’t. I can’t be with a guy who is your center of universe. Rishaan I don’t know what to say but I can’t have you back. Please take Diya away from my sight and keep her happy. I ‘ll try to forget all the wonderful memories we created together. I ‘ll ‘ and she hugged him. And once again Kiara didn’t fail to mesmerize Rishaan.
‘Can I have an opinion of my own? At least now? Why am I being shuffled between the two of you as if I am a toy? Can I decide about my life?’ argued Rishaan. Kiara and Diya nodded. He abided by the quote, “If you love two people at the same time, choose the second. Because if you really loved the first one, you wouldn’t have fallen for the second.” And chose Kiara over Diya. Yet again Kiara outshined Diya. Diya finally realized that she didn’t lag behind Kiara because she was a Raheja and born with a silver spoon in her mouth. But because she had a heart of gold unlike her. Kiara won people’s heart wherever she went because of her nature and Diya’s snooty and lousy behavior casted a bad impression of her. At last she came out of the disillusion which had shrouded her senses.
Rishaan and Kiara were finally united, without the burden of adulterated feelings. Diya learnt a lesson for lifetime- ‘ the love of family and administration of friends is much more important than wealth.’ The New Year indeed marked a new beginning in their lives.