It’s was the 30th December a little past five in the evening, the sun was about to sleep a little too soon being winter, the familiar sounds of scanners & typing on computers could be distantly heard around Ashish Sehnewal’s workstation, he would be finishing from work in an hour from then, while working on his next advertisement creative piece which had been a backlog for a week -his mouse- cursor moved swiftly attracted to sites that lead him to search for ‘New Year Bash parties’ venues in Mumbai- the metropolitan hub. His not so clean Greyish black Dell computers which looked like it had been overused ,displayed Google search pages indicating a number of exciting places that would fit his budget to book his dream New Year celebration,

He pushed himself to book a party that was way too costlier to his loan debited scarce pocket, He thought ‘after all its New year 2017′ & especially comes once a year so why not live in style & celebrate each mile’.Sounds poetic ahaa Ashish !

After he had shortlisted ‘Grand Fiesta’ as the posh venue, Ashish quickly whatsapp’d his girlfriend – Rebecca Alvares who was over excited to hear about his plan & sent him emotions text that showed how romantically she adored him & moreover his high-priced idea.He realized he would need a few more friends to join him for the fun, after all, more the merrier, he messaged ten of his most wild crazy friends & finally three of them agreed after convincing them with a few dozen messages of negotiation newly learnt techniques,

On the 31st morning he was so thrilled about this party event at Juhu Tara Plush area that it woke him up at 5 am before his little pet Tommy got up & attempted booking registration for him & his sweetheart, however to his surprise the prices had shot up on the last day just like a Jet airways cost rises up on on the day when you have to rush.He realized he didn’t have much cash & quietly woke up his loving mom & convinced her for loaning him a seven thousand rupees that he promised to pay back by the coming Monday, obviously they were similar to his five other promises of returning back the cash he had taken from her six months back, negotiation skills you see!

While getting ready in the evening he quickly sneaked into his brother’s cupboard and silently flicked up his bro’s flashy favourite black shirt that he was to wear tonight for his new year party, Ashish smiled to himself ,showered most of the brothers cologne, then sniffed it , asked himself how did he look & answered ‘Smart! I sure still had those killer dimples & charms at twenty-seven in spite of my not so pleasant battle for career progress which was stagnant & monotonous like a little frog who makes those familiar noises all through the night without any sense of achievements to its credit.I laughed when I saw myself as a Frog with that flashy black shirt !imagination freak!

He then texted Ranvijay a reliable & his only childhood friend, his school bench partner & his ‘on the spot helping buddy’.He requested him to loan him his brand new bike for the new year eve for his girlfriend wouldn’t like travelling in a rented pickup cab, while he messaged him he was reminded how he had borrowed fuel money from him for his last date with his girlfriend Shweta Chopra of three weeks and a half who broke up with him because he was also seeing Rebecca from Xtreme media advertising by telling her a list of lies that he was meeting a business associate ,a story that he had cooked up over and over again & finally had got stale when reality hit her, for sure he felt guilty seeing tears of disappointment in Shweta’s eyes but ‘what the heck’ she was her fourth girlfriend in the last one year whom he had broken up with , but it was another story with Rebecca whom he really seriously loved, she was beautiful, was in gym fit shape, was ultra modern, stylish & had an alluring charm that blew his senses apart.Off lately he was getting aggressively anxious every time she would get on a call waiting that lasted for more than ten minutes & sometimes felt like roaring at her the way he used to shout at Shweta who listened to almost everything he said, however here ..the thought of she leaving him made him screech to himself and respond in a reluctant courteousy but sometimes sarcastic expressions filled with a dozen of ‘I am so sorry sweetie’ !

Now Coming back to the New year party , his friend Ranvijay- the always so single bike guy who always overflowed with kindness lent him his bike and a little cash as well iwthout asking, his expression did show ‘don’t you dare ask me that Again’, but with a pinch of smile. Ashish felt his ego being hurt but what the heck ‘its a near year party- I don’t have time for this emotional drama’.

Already late , he zoomed on the crazy crowded traffic of Juhu & met his now furious girlfriend Rebbeca who had been waiting for the last one hour in that beautiful alluring satin pitch black one piece, He was blown apart again ! He apologized but knew she would in some time be killed by his smile & sure she blushed back after throwing a few tantrums.

As they drew near the venue, the place was gorgeously litup , The couple reached the party & their excitement grew as friends joined in, he was then reminded that he had missed inviting Rajeev -Mr. Faithfulness whose call he had missed, he ignored the thought drowning in the blasting sound of Dj Akhtar rolling in one of David Guetta music mixed with ‘Kala Chasma’, He picked up his second beer & joined the gang of hundreds of other partygoers and danced like this was the last day of his life.

But something was different today ,his emotions was topsy-turvey like a crazy vodka that hit his brain ,He was feeling a little troubled because a carefree guy like him shouldn’t feel so, he guessed one of the reason was his current love Rebbeca becoming too comfortable with Rohit a friend of him standing next to her, He tried ignoring by trying to talk to some other pretty girl around , unfortunately he realized it was getting a little weird for him watching them walk together too closely ,With his blood boiling & anger raging after all he had done for her, he followed them & was shocked to see them kiss casually, He went to his girlfriend and yelled and tried to slap her demanding ‘how the heck did she cheat on him !- on Ashish Senewal!’, Rebecca just shouted back at him as the new guy threw him down, ‘You bunch of unfaithfulness swine-Senewal! don’t you dare teach me about faithfulness! ‘and walked away briskly with Rohit.

Ashish was too stunned & hit by her harsh words, for a few seconds ,he couldn’t say a word while witnessing them disappear , He brushed his dirty Jeans & got up.Abruptly he received a ‘beep’ text message from Mr.kindness Rajeev’s number, it was his mum, ‘Beta can you rush to Holy Family Hospital -Rajeev had an accident & is in the ICU’.

Hearing this, his forehead started sweating & eyes widening with an expression of utter shock.

He raced to the hospital on the brand new bike, Ranvijay was hit by a raging car while he was driving his Swift today & lay motionless for eight hours straight.

Ashish eyes wept tears for this faithful friend who he hardly spoke to,he checked his call logs on his mobile to several missed calls from Ranvijay mostly ,that he missed returning call backs for reasons he would create ! creative guy after all!, this fellow who helped him several time ,this same sympathizer of all his breakup stories till the early morning & sadly if Ashish had only invited this friend, Ranvijay might have missed this accident, After he gained consciousness in the early hours at 6 am, Ashish hugged him & picked his bag and drove towards home fully exhausted.

While driving for some miles Suddenly he felt nervous & didn’t know why -he just stopped at the corner of the road & began crying, feeling lonely & hurt.’I really feel like bloody hell! he said.

As he sat on the quite dusty bench next to the highway as the sun rose.Ashish asked himself ‘Have I entered into 2017′ !, he checked his dying mobile battery, ‘Yes it is 1st Jan 2017 and an unfortunate one’!

His weary tired eyes started seeing pictures of his life till now & for the first time he listened to his inner voice that he mostly suppressed, Had he really entered into 2017 or was he still clinging to the nightmares of 2016…was he living a life of ‘fakeism’ that he was tired of!, what did he ever do for Ranvijay -his closest life saviour, what if it was Ashish who would have experienced the accident moment! would he regret his life & the hurts he gave to people who cared for him?. Why did Rebbeca say those harsh words to him that pierced his soul, why did she ditch him for that idiot chap, did she know about his secret relationships that he had never mentioned to her, Why was his work so monotonous ,for it is said Media world is exciting, where had his wild passion for making it big gone, he picked up his phone and wanted to text Shweta his ex, However he realized that he never ever stood for her ?

For the first time, he asked himself ‘was he happy with his life at the door of this 2017 –January 1st.

He made a decision then ‘I got to bury my past life of 2016 & break out of this dirt that I have pulled myself into by my low level of faithlessness to work, relationships, family ,friends & himself.

He wanted to change, He really wanted to… but how would he, who could he speak to, wouldn’t it be embarrassing to Talk to dad about his hidden guilty madness, would dad even listen from his busy work schedules ! would he not sit down with a textbook of the Standford lecture of you shouldn’t do that!

While he pondered about this, Ashish felt a gentle tap on his shoulder, he felt as if someone woke him from a long bad dream, he looked to see this familiar looking guy in smart formals with a Blue tie! ,’it’s chilly this morning! , would you like a cup of tea buddy, ?’not knowing what to say, Ashish mumbled Yes .sssss..sure! This stranger ordered tea from the little tea stall nearby & offered him one, By the way ‘my names Bobby Dsouza, I think you would want someone to talk to,..hmm… Ashish muttered ..seems you haven’t slept last night & for a long time Bob added !

Ashish was a little embarrassed but his comfortable smile forced him to accept his offer,his voice sounded warm & his eyes displayed some strange sense of hope,

Ashish confessed Ya! yes ! mmm.. my life’s messed up I guess! ‘mine was too’,

Bob smiled again!

But today yours could change your life this 2017 like me! , really? is that possible replied Ashish? how? the one teacup turned to five cups of tea with a couple of samosa’s, as he listened & they spoke, he heard this Bob’s story of how he was a mess at a point of his life and today his mess is now his greatest piece of message to tens of thousands from all walks of life

He didn’t know about this new stranger – friendly guy ..but for him this conversation sparked hope in his very gut,He knew he had to intentionally make 2017 the best year of his life, for like Bob said’ you get what you tolerate!’ & I no longer wanted to tolerate the mess of my dirt filled character, I wanted to change & I know I wanted to elevate!What about you ? have you entered 2017 with new exponential hope or are you still flirting with your past saga & living in the after effects of 2016.

Part 2 coming soon -A work of Bobby Dsouza