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The checklist

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Om woke up with a jolt from his nightmare. The movie set engulfed by flames still floated before his eyes, but slowly faded into his dark bedroom.

He stared at the dark ceiling and took a couple of deep breaths to calm down, the same question haunting his mind:

Who was he? Was he Om Prakash Makhija or was he Om Kapoor?

It had been a while since he had regained his memories of his past life, but lately past and present had started to mix in his dreams, often transporting him back to right before his own death, causing him to wake up in cold sweat.

Om sat up straight, grabbed his cellphone and turned on the screen to softly illuminate the room. He shone the light around and went down the checklist of tokens he made up in his mind.

A poster of the latest movie he starred in on the wall beside the door. The snow globe the ghost of Shanti had left behind for him on his nightstand. A fake Academy Award Sandy had given to him for his birthday as a joke next to it. And finally, Sandy peacefully sleeping beside him.

They were all there, which meant he was Om Kapoor, as he should be.

Om sighed in relief. He rose to his feet, put on his bathrobe and walked out onto the balcony. He rested his elbows on the balcony’s fence and looked out over the city.

“Om?” Sandy’s voice sounded behind him softly. “Is everything alright?”

Om turned around. Sandy walked onto the balcony, hugging herself against the night’s cold.

“Did you have a nightmare again?” she asked.

Om nodded.

“Was it Shanti?”

Om nodded again.

“Did you do your checklist?”

Om nodded once more.

“I am Om Kapoor, confirmed.”

Sandy smiled, wrapped her arms around him and rested her head on his shoulder. One of the things Om appreciated most about her was that she was never jealous of Shanti. Because although they looked identical, Sandy was not Shanti.

But Shanti was gone and Sandy was here, and she had listened to him and she understood.

“You’re still shaking a bit,” Sandy said after a while. “Do you want me to make you some chai?”

“No, thanks,” Om replied. He looked down at her face. “You’re so sweet. Will you just stay with me for a while?”

Sandy smiled and hugged him closer.

“I’ll stay with you forever.”

They stood like that for a while, looking at the sleeping city below. And among the stars in the sky twinkling above, Shanti shone as the brightest star, smiling down upon them.