• Dharani Allu

Those manacles

'An enticing gait, an ever so tender gaze and a bewitchingly captivating smile. A playful

demeanor yet a fragile disposition. That would be my dearest friend, Rugved.'

Karan thought as the person himself was walking towards him. He waved, excited to which

Rugved responded with a smile teeming with nostalgia.

"Rugved, it's been a while!" He said as he spread arms for a brotherly embrace.

" It's been a LONG while!" Rugved replied in a melancholic tone which slightly cracked. Karan

felt something was dissonant but before he could confirm his nebulous misgivings looking at his

eyes, Rugved led him on at his own pace.

"Karan, you punk! As soon as you got into college, you forgot all about me!" He said, beaming.

"Says the guy who didn't even pick up my calls!" He shot back.

"Hey! You're still hung up on that?! I told you I had changed my contact information back then…"

From pulling each others- legs to their customary banter and finally about their novel unruly

circle at college assorted with a few comical anecdotes.

At their table in some stochastic restaurant situated in the downtown, formal smiles morphed

into chuckling and chortling.

By the time they were back on the road, they laughed themselves silly practically at every

sentence.

"Ouch, ouch! Karan,stop! My sides are hurting!" He exclaimed.

" Raggy, I'm not the one cracking the jokes!" Karan replied.

" But I'm laughing because you're laughing!"

" And I'm laughing because you just won't stop about how your pensive faced friend cooks up

the most ridiculous fantasies!"

" Karan, he said that we're all living in a simulation and that there was an error just 'cause-"

"Stop!" Karan yelled." I got you! I got you! He's nuts!"

Rugved shook his head while catching a breath.

" I don't even know why I am0 friends with him!"

" 'Cause you're nuts too!" He replied.

They bought themselves two drinks and sat under a Banyan tree.

Rugved's taciturn gaze into the space while a serene gale of late evening wind blew by

instinctively turned towards the unclouded sky.

Sipping on to the drink, Karan stole a glance at him and sighed.

" You're high maintenance as always."

Rugved had a perplexed look on his face.

" What do you-"

"Those manacles … Have they gotten heavier?"

Upon uttering those words, Karan wore an emphatic yet forlorn smile. Rugved could feel tears

welling up in his eyes which never rolled down his warm cheeks.

" I hate how similar you are to me despite that stubborn persona."

"It's because both of us are drowning." Karan replied.

"Of course, we would. Trying to swim with these manacles on our wrists and ankles. Our

aphonia never fails to astound me."

Rugved scoffed.

"So, they did get heavier." Karan emphasised.

" Heavier…Rather than that, I'd say they became more justifiable."

Karan pondered.

" Hmm… justifiable, huh?

Rugved, my dear friend. Pray tell how is tying our wings and hands at the back just so we

don't have any other choice but to woefully tread down the road our parents showed us

is JUSTIFIABLE?"

Karan said in a monotonous voice adding subtle emphasis to his diction.

Rugved sighed.

" I just tried standing in their shoes… Our dreams are fun yet reckless, ambitious yet

ambiguous, impregnable yet unstable.

Given the kind of notorious and rebellious brats we are, doing that was probably the most

natural thing for our parents who LOVE us."

He explained.

" I see. So, you've given up." Karan sighed.

"Excuse me?"

" You're not excused, Mr. Glass castle."

Rugved was rendered speechless when he realized it was the most befitting expression to

describe him.

" Look, I completely agree with what you said about us but I don't take that as a justification.

Aren't you just trying to take the easy way out?"

Karan asked while Rugved shook his head.

"That's not it, Karan. You see, I've realised that we can't go on living our life revolving only

around us. Of course, we're supposed to hold the reins but that doesn't mean we should

trample all over others, especially our beloved family. I am trying to understand them."

Karan silently turned his gaze towards the twinkling stars.

"You're right. We've lived selfishly until now. We can't do that as adults."

"I'm glad-"

" But you know, we try to delve deeper into other people's hearts, comprehend their feelings and

become considerate of them.

We become incapable of hurting them so we try unravelling reasons why they hurt us which

eventually transforms into a justification."

Karan looked into his eyes and continued.

"In the process, the only one who's bleeding and scarring is us.

Especially you!"

He said pointing his index finger towards him. Rugved flinched.

" You've got the face of a prankster but you're way too kind!"

"Dude, is that supposed to be a compliment?"

" Nope." He replied, curtly. " Rugved, What I'm trying to ask is why are you okay being the only

one hurt?"

Rugved's eyes widened in realisation but he was speaking before he knew it.

" I know it's unfair but -"

" It's the easiest way out, right?"

Karan said, cutting him off.

Rugved sighed as he had nothing more to say.

" You should really fix your habit of cutting people off when they're speaking."

" Don't try to change the subject," Karan said, glaring.

"You caught me~" Rugved mischievously replied, sticking his tongue out.

" Karan"

"Hmm?"

" Do you think it's okay to chase dreams?"

"Nope. Chasing ain't enough. Realize them."

" All I see is an arduous road." He sighed.

" I'm worried about my parents."

"When do you not?"

Without arriving at a conclusion that at very least seemed prerogative, they spent the rest of the

few hours meandering under the city lights and gambolling through the young entangled hearts.

The manacles, the freedom, the dreams and the responsibilities which once seemed so

crushing to Rugved.

I hope I was able to mitigate it even if it's a little.

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